A moment comes every now and then when I feel the urge of taking a self-portrait. However, these portraits are not about documenting physical appearance and changes in looks; they mark certain moments in my life. Some are important, but others completely ordinary to the rest of the world, but worth remembering for me. Together, they make up a specific self-portrait diary where every photo is connected to a special event in my life.

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“Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read.”*

In line with a commonly accepted assumption, the reality that we see is identical to everyone and our eyes offer us a reliable image of things that surround us. Nevertheless, phenomena like parallax, optical illusions and colour vision prove that we see with our brains. Our eyes are fallible; time and time again, they fall prey to various tricks played by the mind that wants to make sense of the surroundings. Therefore, what I see is not what you see. I think with my eyes; my eyes think; thought enters through my eyes. Seeing is predicated on thinking. My eyes do not see it: they think it rather than see it. In this series of images my intention is to show that even the most mundane objects and surroundings may be perceived differently and, as a result of it, offer images that render them completely unrecognizable. Depending on the angle of view, lights and shadows, framing etc. places, people and objects assume new forms and are interpreted differently by everybody who looks at them.

*Stephen Dedalus’ monologue in the “Proteus” episode of James Joyce’s “Ulysses.”

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Some things are clearer from a distance.
Even though I have the opportunity to see my grandmother almost every day, only seeing her in my photos made me fully aware of the slow and irreversible process of ageing.
The photographs were taken in the last 5 years and attempt to show the process of growing old.

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my little one is learning to swim

and yet there is something left: gills, fins. she is aquatic and terrestrial, still a thermophile,
enmeshed in intestines. almost a fish, a bit a turtle, a bit a root.
she may get hooked and stick to the ground, she may move into the belly
and live among algae. with the umbilical cord around her wrists.

the little one hopes that her desire to be with water is temporary,
and later everything will get back to normal: the sky, the ground, four walls, ninety degrees
in between. a window, a tree behind it, a window-sill, a table, a bed.
the little one believes that the webbing between her fingers can be bitten, and that the teeth will do.

Ewa Świąc

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In 2008, I moved from a big city to a small town. This was a unique experience. The photos tell a story of my wanderings through the town; peeking into people’s windows; looking at children playing and friends talking; seeing them far away, as if through a thick wall of glass; they recount my inability to connect with them in a consequential way. My failing attempts at establishing meaningful relations, which would go beyond every-day small talk; my dawning realization that at a certain point in life, it is very difficult for some people to find their bearings after moving to a new place. Solitude in a big city is anonymous. In a small town with a community that is reluctant to let a newcomer in, solitude has the face of the person who is alone. The term phatic communion was coined by British anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski in his essay “The Problem of Meaning in Primitive Languages”. It denotes the linguistic function of a language aimed at the maintenance of superficial social interaction rather than imparting information or sharing ideas.

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