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IZA RUTKOWSKA HEDGEHOG

After my first visit to the infamous Wrocław district called ‘the Bermuda Triangle’, I thought that if I were to characterize this place and its people by comparing them to an animal, that animal would be a hedgehog. It seems nice at first sight, but as soon as you approach it, it spikes up its bristles. It takes time and effort to gain its trust. So I made a 7-metres tall hedgehog, one that everyone could cuddle and play with. This hedgehog was supposed to be a pretext to draw people out of their homes, so they could mingle and creatively interact within the communal space of their backyard. During the first days of work — together with volunteers — we would knock on all the doors of nearby apartments and invite the residents for a meeting with the hedgehog. Their reactions were different, but rarely negative, rather incredulous and cautious, although several people did at once declare their support in organizing the workshop.
 

Nevertheless, the majority of the adults remained observers of the animal. Only a few weeks later did people start to believe that this toy is actually there for them, on a regular basis and with no strings attached. The biggest hedgehog fans would gather at the gate and wait for us to come. They would help us attach the spikes on the torso and spread leaflets and posters to the neighbours so we could plan workshops for the

oncoming days. Together we sewed small hedgehogs, watched films and decorated the hedgehog with pompoms. Over time, the kids not only snacked on our cakes, but also shared their owns crisps and mouth-colouring ice-creams. Together we took the hedgehog for a walk around the area, greeting every encountered passer-by. Some amused onlookers even dropped candy on us from their window. At the end we domesticated the hedgehog by stuffing its spikes and head into the windows of various apartments. The animal appeared on the ‘Triangle’ during the summer holidays, so when it was time to say goodbye we told everyone that they could write him a letter. As I was almost driving off in my car one of the teenagers came up to me and handed me a ‘secret letter'. He was one of the kids who would often interrupt our work and shout that it is embarrassing to play with the hedgehog, while still showing up at the meetings regularly. He asked me to promise that I won't tell any of his friends about the letter. Such ‘secrets’ were a very popular thing in that neighbourhood. The letter said ‘I love you hedgehog’. Sometimes we write to each other. I send the kids postcards, they message me on Facebook. Recently, a plan for future games and activities has come up. We will try to make it happen next year.

 

°° iza rutkowska


Place: Backyard between the streets: Mierniczą, Łukasińskiego, Prądzyńskiego i Komuny Paryskiej 

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