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Fading Senses, Sensitive Territories

May 20th - July 1st, 2023

Opening: May 20th, from 6 until 8 PM

In times of multi-species extinction and devastating effects caused by climate change, ecoanxiety and climate grief are rising problems affecting societies. These emotional states are strongly connected to our sensory perception. What happens if we lose our senses and how it influences our relationship with the natural environment? What kind of story or myth could be told about nature under threat of disappearance? These questions and concerns are the subjects of Ligia Popławska's exploration and photographic work.

Fading Senses (2019-2023). What happens if we lose our senses? In times of multi-species extinction and devastating effects caused by climate change, environmental anxiety and climate grief are rising problem affecting societies. Solastalgia is a relatively new name, introduced in 2003 by Australian environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht, for describing emotional distress caused by the loss of ecosystems, a feeling of ‘losing one’s home while being in it’. Climate grief can be 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. The disappearance of senses, one of the biggest human fears, can lead to intra-mental perception, echolocation and memory flashbacks.

‘Fading Senses’ is a research project and a photographic essay where I speculate on 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. I was also deeply affected by solastalgia and climate grief, due to the natural disaster which happened in Bory Tucholskie (Poland, 2017). During the process of photographing, I was drawn to places connected to the notion of anthropocentrism, 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 people who inhabit them, I searched for visual signs of disconnection, which reflect the feeling of insecurity. Turning my research into a speculative narration, with ‘Fading Senses’ I aim to create a mental image of an ungraspable sensation to underline human disconnection from the natural habitat and underline the alarming effects of climate change on mental and emotional health.


Sensory Territories (2023-ongoing). Portugal is one of the most vulnerable European countries to the effects of climate change, from extreme forest fire events to increasing numbers of endangered species. Two elements of matter, fire and water, are a recurring threat to Portugal's precious ecosystems. These elements evoke ancient mythologies, such as the Phoenix rising from the ashes, symbolising the duality of a destructive force and a new beginning. What kind of story or myth could be told about nature under threat of disappearance? Through speculation and elements of magical realism, I aim to highlight the fragility of non-human entities (trees, plants, rivers) that are cyclically threatened to vanish from the landscape due to climate change.

+ info about Ligia Popławska (EN)

+ info about her experience at PhMuseum Days 2021 (EN)

© Ligia Popławska

Exhibition co-organised with:

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