A Fantasy on Polish Airs
A Fantasy on Polish Airs is an intergenerational visual dialogue and a photographic journal that spans over centuries. It tells a story of a Polish family divided by conflicts, personal traumas, addictions, and untimely deaths.
Ripped out photos, ghost children, war heroes on flower beds, dead people, and shaky scribblings become a part of a tale taken out of an old family album. It is a cherished heirloom, passed on from generation to generation along with the anecdotes about the people in the photographs. The details become forgotten and replaced by confused storytellers, creating new narratives every time the stories are told.
The project began and grew organically after I moved to England a decade ago. Every time I visited, I found myself taking portraits of my relatives, documenting the family dynamics, alongside the images from the country I have left.
After coming across old family albums, I have noticed how similar they are to my own work, and how we focus on common themes. Most photographs have been taken by my great-grandfather Tadeusz. He was a troubled figure - a talented photographer and printmaker, an amateur magician, a wonderful husband and father - yet those who knew him well, witnessed his lifelong battle with alcohol addiction.
The pictures he took document the family life while the wars and changing regimes unfold in the background. Alongside the photographs from picnics and lake trips, the albums include pictures of bombarded buildings in our hometown, images from soldier's parties, and portraits of people lost to wars.
As I look at the photographs we have taken a century apart, I think of family relationships and the hidden dark secrets from the past and present. I wonder at the things lost to the memory and what narratives we create in the absence of knowledge.