Axel Void spent a couple of weeks in Katowice, Poland painting a couple of murals in Szopienice, a working class neighbourhood in the outskirts of Katowice.
The murals were painted on both sides of a zinc melter factory and are part of Void’s ongoing “Mediocre” series being a beautiful and haunting homage to working class and everyday people in Szopienice and elsewhere.
On the first wall (above) we see a huge zinc rock with a factory burning in the center. The “Uta Uthemann” factory was the main source of income of Szopienice since 1834 until it was closed in 2008 and finally completely destroyed by a fire in 2011. The second wall, facing the children’s self made park, Void has chosen to portray Anton Uthemann, the owner of the factory through the image of a metal sculpture, and across a landscape of threes nearby lakes where the kids often go when there is good weather.
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.
Certainly a stunning addition to this year’s Katowice Street Art Festival.
The second wall
Founder and editor of Urbanite. Street Art lover who after the finishing her MA thesis on the muralist movement in the 1920-50s, developed a fascination for street art and graffiti that eventually led to collaborations with different art blogs, including the creation of this one.