Piotr Skiba at Centre of Polish Sculpture / Orońsko

Piotr Skiba SNAIL GODS

curated by Leszek Golec

03.02 – 05.05.2024

Centre of Polish Sculpture
Topolowa 1, 26-505 Orońsko, Polland

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Centre of Polish Sculpture



During his study
visit to Orońsko, Piotr Skiba focused on the phenomenon of snail
reproduction occurring in the Sculpture Park in early summer. During
this period, female molluscs laid their eggs in the soil, rock crevices,
but also in sculptures. The sculptures gradually overgrew with snail
shells, creating their own ecosystem. This gave the impression that they were
in complete control of the area, turning the local park facilities into
‘temples for habitation’.

Land snails have
accompanied humans since ancient times; the Sumerians and Babylonians
considered snails immortal, making them a symbol of eternity. Prehistoric
shell heaps, e.g. Sambaqui in Brazil (6000 BC) or Køkkenmødding
in Denmark, testify to the number of shells processed by local
tribes. The Australian Burarra people, also known as Gidjingali, consider
their shell mounds to be sacred sites.

Piotr Skiba made
shells, crusts, discarded organic elements become symbolic material for
building a microhabitat, a new ecological address for local
gastropods. During a morning walk in the Orońsko Sculpture Park, the
artist noticed that, at night, the damp ground of the alleys was literally
covered with a moving thicket of shells. The artist directly addressed
this phenomenon by building in, among other things, the soles of his shoes
and swimming flip-flops, elements from discarded, delicate snail shells and
other organic remains. Skiba appears to be attempting to reverse
a practice similar to preventing living organisms from overgrowing
the hulls of ships, creating a situation sacrificed to overgrowth.
The objects created in Piotr Skiba’s characteristic technique of casting
in bronze resemble in form designed models of small settlements for
small creatures, in fact they are literally dedicated to them. It is
significant that the organic materials collected were ‘cremated’
by burning in metal, ultimately preserving the memory of the melted
biological fragments, which can be related to the ritualistic
practices of creating ancient statues. The choice of location for the temporary
exhibition, i.e. the Chapel, which is the oldest building located on the
premises of the Centre of Polish Sculpture, is by no means