project image

performed on August 25–26, 2012
Hlubina coal mine, Ostrava, Czech Republic
performed once in 2012


Marie Pilarˇová, Žaneta Jurzykowskáa

Akita and Tokyo, Japan / London, UK


Here is the heart of this coal mine.

Here is the heart of this body.

Here, I am installed.

During Deepcamp, the artist-in-residency program at the Hlubina coal mine (the oldest and deepest coal mine in Ostrava, the former industrial city in the eastern Czech Republic), I knit yarns into a “sleeping bag” using my fingers as needles. I knit continually for my entire residency period, following the theme “camp.” At the festival which ended the residency, I slept in it and tangled myself at the bottom of the central tower—just above that deepest mine, in other words “the heart” of the coal mine.

The idea for this piece was fixed at the first night of the residency when I heard “Steel Heart of the Republic,” a slogan used to label Ostrava City as an industrial center of the republic in the Communist era. As far as I know, the “Steel Heart” was actually not the heart of/for the people at all, but it was the heart of/for the government propaganda, used to enhance industry. They associated the image of the heart pumping blood to the body with the coal mine sending the coal to the iron factories. Iron was also the symbol of the pride and the strength of the country, where, in fact, a lot of people suffered forced labor. Thus, I made a “heart.” I undressed, and slept inside it, in order to bring living organisms and blood to the very heart of the cold industrial coal mine. It also represented the social bonds around us including communities, countries, families, etc., in which we are complexly tangled but which feel to us safe and warm. The “heart” was also a womb or a cocoon. At the end of the one of the “cords” which extended from the “womb,” one small speaker was attached. It played the interviews that I had conducted with the people around the coal mine about their first memories.