Project Description

This portfolio entry is dedicated to Wioleta, Inger and Agniezska. Thanks to the three of you for this fantastic experience.

When looking at this project now, all the memories from such an intense and creative collaboration make me smile. Not only because working with a great and professional team, but because we were capable of facing difficulties and made our idea come true, with passion, dialogue and also joy. What a wonderful experience has this been…

Text, images and videos are taken from the website made for this project: how2swim. Find more about the process here.

The performance ’How to swim in the River of Life’ was shown in relation to the International Research Seminar on Salutogenesis, which took place in Trondheim (Norway) at Øya Helsehus in the beginning of August 2012.



How to swim in the River of Life (performance) from Aga Pokrywka on Vimeo.

The performance was accompanied by two video projections that were projected on two large screens behind the performers. This meant that the audience could see the performers and the videos at the same time.

The performance was also accompanied by a generated voice-over, which both guided the performers as well as the audience.

How to swim in the River of Life (projection + audio) from Aga Pokrywka on Vimeo.

Instruction sheets
Instruction sheets were used in the performance and given to the audience as well.




Local swimming experts – website-links:
Wioletta Anna Piaścik
Inger Margrethe Hove Laustsen
Agnieszka Pokrywka
Irene Domínguez Márquez






Photo documentation showing how a poster and a small pile of visit cards were installed at the main entrance at the auditorium that the performance took place in at Øya Helsehus, Trondheim (Norway) on Tuesday, 7th of August 2012, at 13:00.

When people left the auditorium after the performance, they would meet this poster and small pile of visit cards with information about the performers.

The intention with the small wooden shelf mounted on a door together with the poster was to create a ‘3D-effect’. It functions as a shelf for the visit cards but it also serves as a sort of platform from which the swimmer on the poster is jumping. She, the swimmer, will be in a free fall as the stack of visit cards is reduced. 

Visit card design:
The upper part of the images shows the front of the visit cards, while the bottom part of the image shows the back of the visit cards.

Description of the process: 
It was a day in March 2012 that we visited Øya Helsehus in Trondheim (Norway) for the first time. We were as always a bit late for an appointment with Beata Eggan, who had invited us to hear if we could be interested in presenting art during the 5th International Research Seminar on Salutogenesis taking place at Øya Helsehus in the beginning of August 2012. After visiting the place and some minutes of thinking, we accepted the invitation as the curious artists we are.
The following months, we met numerous of times to get to know each other, since this is the first collaboration between the four of us. We decided very early in the process that we wished to create a collaborative art work, where both the space at Øya Helsehus as well as the topic of the seminar would be taken in consideration.
To begin with, it was a challenge how to approach the topic of the seminar from an artistic point of view since none of us had heard about Aaron Antonovsky or the term ‘Salutogenesis’ before. Therefore, we did some research on Aaron Antonovsky and ‘Salutogenesis’ to see in which direction it could take us.
By chance we came across Aaron Antonovsky’s interpretation of the ‘river metaphor’ in which he states that we are all born in the River of Life meaning that instead of preventing people from falling into the River of Life, people should learn to swim in it. Aaron Antonovsky, who coined the term ‘Salutogenesis’, suggested with this interpretation of the ‘river metaphor’ that the focus in Health Promotion should be on what makes and keeps people healthy instead of what makes them ill.
After discussing and working on various ideas as well as facing several limitations, we came up with a final suggestion in the end of May 2012 for an art work to be presented during the seminar, which we felt both fitted the space at Øya Helsehus as well as the topic of the seminar. An art work that consists of various bits and pieces, all expressed in different media, which together form a coherent whole.
Description of the art work:
The art work consists of a five minutes long performance combined with video and voice-over; instruction sheets that were used in the performance and given to the audience as well; and a poster displayed together with a small pile of visit cards. The performance was shown once on the second day (7th of August, 2012) of the seminar at 13:00 in an auditorium at Øya Helsehus, Trondheim (Norway).
In the performance, we tried to draw parallels between Aaron Antonovsky’s interpretation of the previously mentioned ‘river metaphor’ and the way that airplane crews show safety procedures during take-off by using dry swimming lessons combined with i.a. a computer generated voice-over.
Before we entered the auditorium in which the performance took place, a sound similar to the one used in air planes, when the sign of the safety belt switches on, was played three times. A computer generated voice-over was at the same time asking the audience to find and take their seats and prepare themselves for an upcoming presentation without explaining what kind of upcoming presentation it would be.
After approximately one minute, we entered the auditorium dressed in swimming suits, bringing with us a cap, a pair of goggles, a nose clip, and an instruction sheet. Before the audience had entered the auditorium, we had placed instruction sheets on the tables so each person could take a copy with them home if they wished.
After finding and taking our positions on a stair case placed in the middle of the auditorium, the computer generated voice-over welcomed the audience in the River of Life and a video of underwater shots was projected on two large screens in front of the audience. We were placed in front of the projections which meant that the audience could see both us and the video at the same time.
After welcoming and introducing the background for the performance, instructions on how to place the cap, the swimming goggles, and the nose clip that we had brought with us were given by the computer generated voice-over. When we were fully equipped and ready to jump into the River of Life, the computer generated voice-over would shortly give instructions on how to swim ‘Butterfly’ in the River of Life. The reason why we chose this swimming discipline is that we regard it to be the most beautiful but at the same time most difficult swimming discipline, which can be compared with the challenges that we face in life. The video with the underwater shots was an attempt to emphasize that we are always swimming in the River of Life – also when we are not in the actual water.