From the Heights
From the heights of the third floor you can see the parking lot,
little domes of orthodox churches, flakes of plaster on bodies
of buildings shedding skin, further on, behind the wall,
people pace the streets swallowing syllables, their larynxes cinched
with ribbons of rain, on the way down you see children dodging
into hoops of puddles, drops on their drenched faces, and hear,
just behind you, their seven-year-old commander's orders, further
on, you stop, the canvas of your umbrella, touched from below,
leaks, wet hair congeals, tucked in your shirt a damp Waryński
on the banknote shivers in the cold, in a second you'll hand him
over the matches, tobacco: as if that kiosk were the Okhrana's
station or an exchange for converting the elements:
it's July, life - saved up for later - gets wadded in
a cube and held in an inside pocket;
trans. by William Martin
Chicago Review, vol. 45, 1999.
HAVE always liked this poem of Marcin Sendecki from his first published collection of poetry. I think that the way of "looking from the heights" that he described here is quite close to the way many photographers work, provided that analogies between literature and photography are not too far reaching (even the early works of the poet were credited with "photographic recording"). Though the specific realities appearing in Marcin's text belonged to another place and time I decided that this poem will be a good motto to one of photographic series being a part of a documentary project called "Silesia in Black and White" upon which I am currently working. A town seen from the height of second, third, fourth or fifth floor and through windows of staircases discloses its entrails covered shyly by facades of buildings. But intention of this series is not to "disclose" anything. A closer look at the shape of Silesian building structure from different than usual perspective will allow - I hope so - a very "concrete poetry" of industrial towns to speak out.
UCH was already written about meaning of photographic document. Nevertheless it often escapes our attention that documentary photography - besides being a faithful recording - contains also aesthetic values. Also when its subject is not an idyllic landscape of the most beautiful and exotic parts of the world but when it brings out what is not always noticed at the first glance and gives it a sense.
The "From the heights" series is a part of a bigger project of Wojciech Wilczyk. The artist has been working upon this series in Upper Silesia from over a year. This work was inspired by the equally entitled poem of Marcin Sendecki. Wojciech Wilczyk in order to make his black and white photographs penetrates with his camera difficult to access quarters of Silesian towns, abandoned and neglected backyards, rarely frequented by-streets and passages.
All these photographs fall into the category of documentary photography and are subjected to uniform and disciplined composition and style that irresistibly make us think about classical American photography of 1940's and 1950's. However people in the photographs of Wojciech Wilczyk play only incidental role.
The prominent role plays here architecture, literally it is a small town architecture in spite of that the whole series is about an urban region. Only elements of church towers in distant background suggest that we are in a big city or rather on its outskirts. Thus the artist purposely defines such a perspective of perception by photographing everything from some distance and elevated point of view. Just this "elevation" causes that these apparently similiar and simple pictures exert on us such a great impact of direct recording.
The photographs of Wojciech Wilczyk in deliberate and faithful way reflect artist's intentions to show urban area of Silesia in a synthetic way, the way different from established patterns of embellishing the reality. They also contain some mysteriousness and magic that is typical for separate, photographic form which no literary description, even the most discriminating, may equal.
born 1961, Photographs since 1988.
Member of Union of Polish Art Photographers since 1997.
1995 - "Moskwa prowadzi wojne", (photographic series made in Moscow during the Ist war with Chechenia), Galeria z Raczka, Cracow
1996 - "Poezja", (slightly expanded series of pictures from the book "20 Unforgettable Hits and 10 Cult Photographs), Klub-Galeria "U Luisa", Cracow
1997 - "Poezja", Centrum Sztuki - Teatr Dramatyczny, Legnica
1997 - "Pejzaz symboliczny" - (series made in 1992 - 1996 during pulling down of coking plant "Walenty-Wawel" in Ruda Slaska), Galeria ZPAF, Cracow
1999 - "Antologia", (Portraits of 21 poets and writers born in 1960's. Pictures from the book "Antologia" presenting: Marcin Baran, Milosz Biedrzycki, Darek Foks, Natasza Goerke, Manuela Gretkowska, Mariusz Grzebalski, Krzysztof Jaworski, Pawel Konnak, Tadeusz Pioro, Jacek Podsiadlo, Marcin Sendecki, Andrzej Sosnowski, Dariusz Sosnicki, Andrzej Stasiuk, Dariusz Suska, Krzysztof Sliwka, Marcin Swietlicki, Olga Tokarczuk, Krzysztof Varga, Adam Wiedemann i Grzegorz Wroblewski) - Centrum Sztuki Wspolczesnej, Warsaw
2000 - "Poeci, pisarze i ulice wielkich miast", (Portraits of writers born in 1960's juxtaposed with urban landscapes) -Galeria Widokowa PKiN, Warsaw
"20 niezapomnianych przebojow i 10 kultowych fotografii" - with Marcin Swietlicki. Wydawnictwo Baran i Suszczynski, Krakow 1996, 2nd printing 1998.
"Tanero" - with Marcin Baran. Oficyna Literacka, Krakow, 1998.
"Antologia" - Oficyna Literacka, Krakow 1999.
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10 - 05 - 2001