Karolina Lebek is a Polish-born artist currently based in London. Lebek’s practice merges sound, video, photography and sculpture to explore interests in consciousness, intergenerational trauma, history, nature, ecology and mental health. Key themes of Lebek’s work are the sacred, the ritual and the body.
The title of this work, ‘Sanare’ is a Latin word, meaning ‘to heal’. The tradition of drinking mineral waters from active water springs in Krynica Zdroj in Poland – a historic health resort town attracting thousands of tourists each year with the promise of wellness – is the most vivid memory of a trip Lebek undertook with members of her family in 1996. This trip, taking her to the heart of a Lemko region of the Carpathian Mountains, existed as an initiation, first introduction to a cultural identity that has been erased from her upbringing through taboo and generational trauma, related to ethnic cleansing and resettlement of that region in 1947.
Through the act of visiting sanatoriums (medical spas) as an observer, Lebek participated in healing treatments, gathering information about the medicinal properties of natural materials, focusing on the inner worlds of other participants and spaces where healing occurs. This project takes a form of a video work, existing as a meditation on identity and healing, mental health and connection to nature beyond the physical.
Repeating the journey that first introduced her to ancestral knowledge and rituals of Lemkos, Lebek is drawing on the cultural, spiritual and personal accounts of violence, trauma and shame manifested through generations to create a musical, performative and visual experience in which the wounded voices of the past mould into a song in the present, striving for recognition and reparation.