Szopienice, Katowice, Poland
This piece is part of the “Mediocre” series. It’s painted in the neighborhood of Szopienice, in the outsides of Katowice. Szopience is considered a humble and at times conflictive working class neighborhood.
The murals are the two sides of a building where three families live, next to the train tracks and in front of the zinc melter factory “Uta Uthemann”, named after Anton Uthemann. He was the owner of this factory and closely involved with many coal mines in Silesia. He was also known for fighting to better the life of the workers and their environment.
The zinc factory was the main source of income of Szopienice since 1834. On 2008 the factory closed. The people of the neighborhood still hoped the building would be restored and the company would produce again, but in 2011 there was a fire in part of the building. This event was a symbol to the definite end of the factory. Some say this fire was intentional.
I spent a week working on both walls. While painting, I built a strong relationship with the kids and neighbors from the building and surroundings, whose hospitality and generosity proved their reputation wrong.
The concept behind the mural talks about the dichotomy of things that can be both curative and harmful. For example, Zinc is a vital mineral but in large quantities it can be toxic. Using this principal as a metaphor for aspects of our daily life, we can find this duality of the remedy becoming the poison. On one wall we can see a zinc rock with the image of the factory burning in the center. On the other side facing the children’s self made park, there is a metal sculpture represented, with the the portrait of Uthemann, and across a landscape of three nearby lakes where the kids often go when there is good weather.
This mural pays homage to working class and everyday people in Szopienice and elsewhere.