‘The Life and Death of Bierzigster Iarhgang’ – collaboration with Marcin Czarnopyś for Connect:Katowice project

Reposted from ConnectKatowice.com, the following describes a recent and ongoing arts collaboration with Polish artist Marcin Czarnopyś…

The artists

Project description/intent

Wrocław (Poland), November 2016/1856

One late afternoon in November, Marcin and Kelise wandered into an old bookstore in Wrocław’s main town square. A book, dated 1856 on the ragged spine and gently reeking of cigar smoke, fell into Marcin’s hands: “Neueste Nachrichten aus Dem Reiche Gottes”, or as Google Translate suggests: “Latest News from the Kingdom of God” by Bierzigster Iargang. As we thumbed through the contents, a postage-stamp sized portrait of a woman fluttered from between the pages:

kelisemarcin_proj_stmt_image01Intrigued and 40 złoty poorer, the book was ours.

Who was Bierzigster Iargang? (We called him “BJ” for short). The final pages of the book revealed some of his story:

BJ was born in Przemyśl (Marcin’s home town!), to a German/Polish family that owned several coal mines in the Silesian area. A religious and righteous man, yet troubled by the corruptions that accompany great wealth, BJ received a series of heavenly visions over the course of a year – which he called, “Neueste Nachrichten aus Dem Reiche Gottes (Latest news from the kingdom of God)”, wrote them all down and published in a book of the same title. This was directly followed by a spiritual calling to go to New York (where Kelise’s family originates) as a missionary, and he traveled to America around 1856-7, leaving his wife and six daughters behind until he could get settled and send for them to join him.

But in New York, he seems to have disappeared, presumed dead, shortly after he arrived and his family never heard from him again.

Our project aim is to unravel the mystery about the life and death Bierzigster (BJ) Iargang, and to discover the truth about what connects his story to Marcin and Kelise.

kelisemarcin_proj_stmt_image02

Proposed outcome

Currently we are working with an installation of found objects, text/prints, photos, and video which will present our research into BJ’s life as well as present the found connections between him, Marcin, and Kelise, (and particular, the artists want to unpick already discovered common ancestry between Marcin and Kelise).

Timeline

  • June to Nov 2016: Kelise and Marcin communicate via email and regular post to become acquainted and discuss project ideas.
  • Nov 2016: Kelise visited Marcin in Wrocław, to work together and progress one or more project ideas
  • Dec 2016: Kelise and Marcin present work in Connect:Katowice in London at Hornsey Town Hall with Kelise to deliver talk/workshop around their project which both worked on together to develop (working ideas include: a book-making workshop, souvenir exchange, story-telling, etc.)
  • Dec 2016 to June 2017: Marcin and Kelise continue to work over email and regular post to develop the project
  • June 2017: final work(s) and/or documentation presented in Katowice, Poland

Click the link for more about the collaboration between Marcin and Kelise – “stories between the UK and Poland

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