Asia Zwierzchowska

"Rescue from Oblivion"

Section 4, Helene Kazan

Keywords: technology, architecture, photogrammetry

Layers of hidden histories are uncovered in the discovery of a Jewish bath house under a nightclub in a small Polish town called Chmielnik . Buried during the World War II, the bath remained forgotten for decades as the town suffered many casualties during conflict. Years later, fuelled by stories from on his father, a local businessman decided to try and restore the lost bath house. His research led him to a building that had been turned into a nightclub. In examining the building, the excavation team uncovered an entrance to the underground world of the mikveh. Mikveh was a crucial part of life to the local community, it was a place of a ritual which required access to naturally occurring water. The importance of the ritual made the preservation of the site essential. The buildings history as both a nightclub and a bath house, blurs the boundaries between two forms of ritual; the stories of which entangle one and the other.

Since I visited the site two years ago, no work has been done to preserve the mikveh. The current owner would like the building to gain heritage status, as he's concerned that without such recognition the mikveh will become neglected and forgotten again. My project aims to rescue the building and its hidden histories from oblivion. Photogrammetry and sound explore the blurred narratives within the space. Through the use of a Virtual Reality viewers are invited to experience and become immersed in the space and the stories.