Justyna Olszewska from Poland will be Artist in Residency in Gozo in June/July 2024

Emerging curator Paulina Brelińska-Garsztka from the Wroclaw Institute of Culture nominated the visual artist Justyna Olszewska to participate as an artist in residency in Beyond What Drifts Us Apart taking place this year in Gozo, Malta between 19th – 28th of July.

This fascinating residency program and exhibition is part of the Mahalla Festival and the MagiCCarpets network.

MagiC Carpets is a “Creative Europe” platform, uniting 21 European cultural organizations with the goal to create opportunities for emerging artists to explore new territories, collaborate with local artists and communities to produce works that highlight local specificities and create new narratives.

Beyond What Drifts Us Apart is curated by Elyse Tonna and organized by Unfinished Art Space in cooperation with the Istanbul-based cultural association Diyalog, with financial support from Arts Council Malta.

Justyna Olszewska is a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań and Astronomy at Adam Mickiewicz University (AMU), now a student at the Doctoral School of Exact Sciences at AMU in the field of astronomy. She conducts astro-workshops and lectures, creating works that address ecological themes. Currently, her artistic work focuses on projects aimed at highlighting the growing issue of sky pollution caused by artificial light, and consequently, the loss of the natural heritage of a starry sky. Together with three friends, she forms the educational collective Good Night.

She will be participating in the one-month-long art residence alongside 5 other incredible artists in Gozo, Malta. During this time and thanks to her astronomical background, she will be researching and working through the prism of artistic creation on the issue of light pollution in the area.

The final exhibition Beyond What Drifts Us Apart (BWDUA) will take place between July 19 and July 28 at the Dwejra Tower in Gozo, Malta.

Talking with Justyna Olszewska – interview by Léa Cordani

Could you please tell us a bit about yourself and your art?

I am a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań and Astronomy at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, where I am currently pursuing a PhD at the Doctoral School of Exact Sciences in the field of astronomy. In my artistic endeavors, I am fascinated by the integration of scientific disciplines and interdisciplinarity. My studies in astronomy greatly influence my artistic work, and my recent projects have an educational character. A topic of particular interest to me is the contemporary issue of light pollution. This has become so significant to me that I have dedicated my latest artistic works to it. In my activities, I also use archives from the Astronomical Observatory Institute, as well as various stories hidden within the old building “Willa Górczyn,” which houses the Institute.

How did the issue of light pollution become part of your work?

In 2019, together with three friends, we formed the scientific-artistic collective Good Night, and we have been active ever since. We began our activities with a project related to the total Solar Eclipse in Chile. During our trip, we had the opportunity to stay in the darkest place in the world, where at night the Milky Way is almost within reach. The sky over the Atacama Desert made such a profound impression on us that we decided to undertake educational efforts on the subject of sky pollution caused by artificial light. Excessive light after dark is not only a problem for space researchers, who find it increasingly difficult to find places for observation, but for all of us. It is currently as dangerous as chemical pollution of the environment. Too much light at night negatively affects every living creature, from plants to humans. By disrupting the circadian rhythm and hormonal balance of organisms, it contributes, among other things, to the development of cancers.

How do you feel your art relates to the idea of the exhibition?

The idea of the exhibition is close to my heart. I have not yet visited Dwejra at night, but I have heard that it is one of the few places in Malta where you can observe the sky. The concept of my artistic activity is still taking shape, and I believe that being in the project location will be so inspiring that it will help me choose the right direction. I definitely want my project to be educational and aimed at the local audience, i.e., residents of the area around the dark place on the island. Part of the project will definitely involve documenting the night sky using equipment that “sees” a bit more of the cosmos than the human eye. I am also preparing a happening in which local residents and communities can participate – but we’ll see what comes of it. I definitely want to activate the local community to look up!


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