I’m not going there!

Wystawa indywidualna (obrona doktoratu), 23.04 – 29.05.2016, Galeria Forum, Toruń

Recently, I’ve become a part of my very own, small family. The new reality of life has naturally forced my to change the way I work and resulted in a deeper need to re-evaluate my creative path. With my family I had prepared an on-camera performance, which become the axis of the exhibition that closed my doctoral program. The projects is about the fragmentarism of our experiences, about searching for our identity in family relations, and about the role of photography in life. This work widens the theme of light that I’ve undertook in my doctoral thesis by putting it in the category of cognitive tools and a chaotic and dangerous guarantor of communication.

The records of this performance showed on the exhibition were a video and a selection of photos. The performance consisted in night walks that we took as a whole family in the outlying part of the city: deserted roads, industrial areas, suburban forests. I put my nine-month-old son in a wrap, when knotting it I could feel the tiny body cling precisely to my chest and stomach. It was cold and rainy, so I would put a winter coat on my shoulders and pull a bright yellow snowboard jacket on my front: it was supposed to protect my son, I would put its hood on his small head and wrap the sleeves around my neck. In order to seal up our common clothing, I buttoned the coat as much as I could and I tucked the bits of the yellow, technical fabric inside it. The beating of my heart, the steady rhythm of my steps and the accumulated warmth put my son to sleep regardless of the weather conditions. In front of myself, I held a camera equipped with an external flash lamp. Moving in the dark, I pushed the trigger of the shutter every few seconds, and the flash revealed the fragments of the environment in front of us. A few steps behind us walked my life partner and Franek’s dad, who filmed our trek with a hand-held camera.

The results of these strange family trips beyond the city were a video and a cycle of accidental pictures presented in the form of lightboxes scattered around the gallery. We were interested in everything that could be found behind the borders of illuminated agglomeration. We roamed around forests and the sides of rarely frequented roads. The cold light of the flesh defragmented our surrounding by tearing it’s random parts from the darkness. The camera and the flash acted as a probe, making it possible to explore in the dark. Wandering around places unknown to us, we were practising a weird form of tourism, in which photography was a part of the strategy of movement. Like in family and social life, also in this project the act of taking a picture is not an artistic creation but rather a ritual of sorts, which makes a guard against fear and is a tool of control. Creating this projects as a family, we entered an uncomfortable situation. Wandering around unfamiliar places kind of like tourists, but in a far more literal sense, we tried to take the space in which we didn’t feel safe into possession through photography. The video documentation is accompanied by sound – steps, breaking branches and sometimes dialogue, which denudes the ‘backstage’ and shows the tensions between us, the dissolving sense of purpose and emotional involvement. Another element of the exhibition was a commemorative photo of me with my son. It is one of hundreds spontaneous photos: the archetype of a tourist souvenir, pastiche of photographic superficiality, or maybe a perfect picture of mother with her child.