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Ola Korbańska: The Laundresses

The term “airing out the laundry” has been used throughout western history as a saying symbolizing the need for keeping private, indoor matters hidden. Uncovering the hidden sphere of life and taking up space is the central theme of Ola Korbańska‘s “The Laundresses”, a site-specific installation that will be displayed on St. Ivan Square in Jelsa, on July 16, at 9PM
Along with the installation, Ola will be doing daily performances from July 16 until July 20 of hand-washing and air-drying the installation in the square.

Doing one’s laundry, as an activity, has a very feminized past: in many cultures, as long as the memory reaches, it was a female profession, and in many languages, the word laundress exists only in female form, lacking a male counterpart. Many southern European cities had special areas designed for the purpose of washing laundry, constituting socially important spaces for women’s communities.

Jelsa’s slatina, located very near the playground for children on Mala Banda, is the local mirror of such a space: a place where the salt water of the sea mixes with the abundance of fresh water from the stream, designated for washing laundry. Some European cities tried to implement the air-drying ban, claiming that in developed, modern metropolis, laundry should be dried by the machines, not breeze, and certainly should not be seen publicly. The laundry became a subject of an aesthetical, ecological, but also gender debate. The very act of drying laundry is a moment in the cycle of a private sphere where it is brought to public eye, fully displayed for the spectator’s eye.

Due to this brief but cyclical intrusion into the outside world, drying clothes could be seen as a manifesto of incessant and invisible work carried out by women, becoming, at the same time, a mark of female visibility left in the public space. Ola Korbanska’s Laundresses brings the object, and act, of drying laundry out in the public space of Jelsa, for everyone to see and ponder what is (and perhaps should not be) private, public, as well as the words crafted on the surface of the fabric.

Organization in co-production of: LAB852, Sustainable Island association, Kružok Association, Organize and Improvise
Support: Ministry of Culture and media of the Republic of Croatia, Municipality of Jelsa, Jelsa Tourist Board, AgitLab.

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