Ligia Popławska

Winning body of work

What happens if we lose our senses? In times of multi-species extinction and devastating effects caused by climate change, environmental anxiety is a rising problem affecting societies. Solastalgia, a relatively new name describing emotional distress caused by the loss of ecosystems, is characterised by a perspective of a fading world, a lived experience of the loss of the present. Described as an earth-related state, it reflects the zeitgeist of our time. A perspective of a fading world and a state of fading away is close to sensory deprivation. Absence of senses, one of the biggest human fears, can lead to intramental perception, echolocation and memory flashbacks.

Fading Senses is a research project and a photographic essay where I examine how solastalgia affects our mental and emotional health and research the implications of the absence of senses on brain mechanisms. As I have temporarily lost one of the senses in the past, this deprivation became my intuitive leading guide, which I have applied to the working method and to the visual language. During the process, I was drawn to places connected to the notion of supposed stability and protection, like socialist architecture, the space of a zoo, a home for the visually impaired or an acrobatic centre. Focusing on these places and on the people who inhabit them, I searched for visual signs of disconnection, which reflect the feeling of insecurity.

Turning my research into a speculative narration, I aim to create a mental image of an ungraspable sensation to underline human disconnection from the natural habitat.

Fading Senses