Cecylia Malik
Bialka’s Braids, 2021

Bialka’s Braids is an art project dedicated to a beautiful and wild Polish river – Bialka, which is supposed to be regulated. The aim of Bialka’s Braids is an exposure of this problem in Poland where many rivers are devastated due to regulations and poorly managed flood protection policy. In order to highlight the problem Cecylia Malik decided to support the struggle for the Polish rivers conducted by scientists ‒ the experts in the field of environmental protection –a hydrobiologist from The Polish Academy of Sciences prof. Roman Zurek,  an activist  Pawel Augustynek Halny and the Naturalists’ Club organization. In Poland the European Union directives on water rights and protection of rivers are not respected. The project was started during Cecylia Malik’s exhibition “The City Reserve” in Bunkier Sztuki in Krakow. The artist proposed to  plait a  braid from ribbons from cut materials together with anyone who is against regulation of the Bialka river. During one month, her friends, gallery stuff, activists, ecologists, pupils from schools and kindergartens plaited a 6,6 kilometers-long braid in order to protect one of the last remaining natural rivers. This extremely long braid was suspended, resembling a waterfall, at Krakow’s Main Square on  an Earth Day (20 04 2013).  On April 27, the protest and performance took place at the Biala Gorge.  During the action the braids were woven into the hair and expanded  along the river bank.  All this scenery formed a beautiful image with the braids blended into the environment and creating a visual commentary and counterpoint to the landscape.  At the same time one could had an impression that they had been always placed there. This visual image will remain in the memories of the participants of the action showing the beauty of nature and emphasizing the fact that the most interesting things can happen at the crossroads of nature and culture. The project, that is still in process, is a call to  become the knowledgeable guardians of the places which are our common heritage and  is about transmitting energy of the common work further.