Krystyna Ziach
Like Fire and Water, Culture and Nature are Each Others Poles,
text by C. Zijlmans, Rotterdams Dagblad, 6 April 2001, newspaper, NL (English)

Time and the transience of dust, and thus of life, can be made visible. In Fountain of Time water is present in two, or rather three forms. First it is streaming down a face, then it is causing the corrosion of the metal sheet next to the close-up portrait photograph. “The third form, on the floor in front of the diptych, is rather about a lack of water. Here the salt remains on the floor as a trace of evaporated sea water,” Krystyna Ziach, a 47-year old visual artist living in Amsterdam, explains.
In several of the rooms of the museum she has installed her impressive exhibition Aqua Obscura, which will be on show up to 5 November 2000. Anyhow, the porpoise skeletons at the top of the large stairwell of the Natural History Museum of Rotterdam will remain oblivious to the pelting water streaming closely to fiery flames into the rusty iron container.
“Here,” says Ziach “two incompatible elements are united and water is tangibly and audibly present in a downward movement. The ravages of time are present as well, this time in the shape of the corroded pedestal. Water and fire symbolize the feminine and the masculine and water is the symbol of the source of life. I believe 90 percent of our body consists of water. We actually are water ourselves.” In the next room dark swirling water with duckweed, bubbles and algae, streams in interminable dotted patterns, carrying along torn-up photographs of glamorous movie stars. There is a scrap of a torn letter passing by in a vortex, suggesting continuous movement. If one watches closely, one can make out the word ‘cosmos’ on the paper. Next to it, another image of mysteriously stagnant, turbid water, seemingly showing us a tile picture in an inundated corridor. Eight times the same cheerful girl portrait. Only the waves in the water show it to us differently each time. A submerged fan photo of a laughing Billie Holiday is not cheerful at all and the hustled scraps of photographs of kissing lovers are no longer lively. Only body parts remain as the ingredients of an almost abstract work of art. Ziach: “The photos I used, which I found in my studio, have been taken completely out of their context as the carrier of a certain identity. The work is about the vulnerability of people and feelings, about transience, isolation and about the triviality of life. Nothing glamorous remains of the movie star with sun glasses on the picture postcard. ”Those who still believe the Natural History Museum of Rotterdam is only about exhibitions of mammoth teeth and collections of dried flowers have not been there recently. Museum director Jelle Reumer has been curating art exhibitions for quite a while. “Like water and fire nature and culture are each other’s opposites, even if both words end with the same syllable. This museum is not only about skeletons, stuffed birds and cephalopoda in formalin. Our art exhibitions, even though not always explicitly, refer to concepts which play an important part in, and have much ground in common with, nature. We are located here among the important cultural art houses of the city and want to have something to offer to those audiences as well. It is a broadening of our own audience really. This way the new visitors are also becoming acquainted with our interesting collection; on the other hand, the children who often come here discover the visual arts, so it works both ways,” Reumer says about the museum’s new