Jacob’s Ladder

a sevice provided in frame of „From the backyard” festival in Wrocław, september 2016


Impart 2016 in frame of European Capital of Culture in Wrocław in 2016

Jakub Szczęsny

Natalia Romaszkan

Film documentation:
Tomek Ziółkowski


Alicja Kielan

The festival’s ambition is to bring culture and art to poorest communal neighborhoods around Wrocław’s downtown.
Artists such as Cecylia Malik, Iza Rutkowska and Joanna Rajkowska worked with local communities creating tmeporary and permanent installations that are supposed to positively influence the everyday of the locals.
When asked by the organisers to propose an intervention, I’ve opted for a service referring to the tradition of ambulant knife sharpeners and rat-catchers. It consisted of providing an opportunity of changing the point of vue on the surrounding reality by climbing a five meter tall ladder and looking around through a pair of military grade binoculars.
I carried the ladder from one derelic backyard to another attracting people’s attention by shouting: „Change your life, change your point of vue!”, „A panorama of your life from a high ladder” and „It’s free and it’s only today, so don’t stay away!”.
„Why climbing a ladder placed in a middle of a backyard if people can view the world through their own windows?” many have asked.
„The reasons are simple” I use to reply and than many of those who have climbed and later commented to their neighbors:
because it gives you a panoramic view of your everyday life
because you never change the level of the eyesight in a middle of the unpaved backyard
because changing the eyesight level makes you realize you didn’t see many surprising details from your own surrounding

because you can shamelessly peek into your neighbor’s apartment
because you can wave to your family in your own apartment
because it’s a once in a lifetime experience
because it makes you face your own shame, scrupules or fears
because you feel you suddenly merit something
because there are no decent trees to climb around
because, out of the blue, you might have a new idea about your own life

Along with my assistants we were approached by people who didn’t fear climbing up the ladder or who feared a bit, but wanted to overcome it, because they were simply curious. Most of them were women between 6 and 60 years old, some boys, a couple of brave aged men. Tired housewives, frivolous mothers, schoolchildren, slightly drunk retired soldiers, hangovered bricklayers, middle-class fathers, female art afficionados, culture sector employees, students and spoiled balerinas. Some people didn’t wanted to climb, like that old Gypsy man with severe mustache and a fancy hat, who sat by us on a wobbly chair and said: „I climbed many ladders, can’t do it anymore after my three heart attacks, but what I can do is play you some music, ’cause you seem to lack it!”. And he did!