Mala Gallery, Warsaw,
8, Zamkowy Sq.
November 2-26, 1999
Opening party: November 2nd, 6 pm.
The prevailing opinion is that photography comprises a few areas that do not fit together and because of that different functions are attributed to each of these areas. The principles of documentary photography are different from those of advertisment photography and still another rules apply to classical photography which tends towards traditional graphic techniques.
However in the recent years the tendency to cross barriers between already defined directions is highly praised, particularly among artists of the younger generation who are not burdened with that very traditional approach to photography. It applies especially to illustrative and staged photography which uses surpass strictly outlined idea of advertisment photography. Many photographers who quite often have finished higher professional studies do make works for which point of reference is not the surrounding reality but their own unrestrained phantasy and imagination. For inspirations for this kind of work they reach to experiences of their professional and strictly private lives as well. It creates an interesting blend: very personal threads sometimes inevitably mixed with mass culture patterns infiltrate into lofty art.
Joanna Zastrozna who has graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk crosses deliberately the limits imposed by any classification. Her colour works presenting the same person create a kind of multiple impression of the same theme. But the model who does her sitting in a manner characteristic for the fashion photography assumes unexpected poses, is taken by surprise in the most "non-photographic" moments, she is restrained by invisible ties and so fettered (sometimes literally) she is trying to pass some border, to convey some message. Perhaps because of that there are fragments of texts within some of the pictures. These texts, in order to avoid being literal, written in Japanese become an additional element of the border which we are unable to reach. And it is also probable that the mysterious messenger - the emissary who delivers good or bad news will not reach this border too.
Joanna Zastrozna is not only, in a sense, distorting her photographs creating thus artificial reality based on her imagination - she enriches this reality with new meanings and transforms this reality instead of reporting it. She is not prying into this reality, she is trying to create it using disciplined form and consciously chosen colours.
It seems like the artist's idea is the well thought over answer to the old question: may photography to stray from the faithful recording and to convey real although artificially created reality.
Transformation, colour, sign, line, patch, gesture - these elements often occur in Joanna's photographs. She uses these elements willingly, with premeditation, almost passionately.
As I see it, her tendency to depart from the recording function of a photograph, as well as freedom in creation and "manipulation" of the picture, expresses her anxiety, opennes, the need of search and experiment, and the need to combine different methodes of visual expression and articulation. Transferring of experiences from one style to another - and vice versa - seems to be a characteristic and valuable quality.
A graphic artist by education, she easily and willingly transfers graphic marking and her understanding of colour to photography; sometimes she goes even further, using it with the painter's freedom, or even nonchalance. She does it not to "ennoble" photography, but because she treats photograph on a par with other methodes of manual notation.
These qualities are different enough from those used commonly in photography or attributed to it (except, of course, the so-called purist attitudes which do not allow any "foreign" elements in the photographic picture). Joanna Zastrozna treats the photographic picture as a base which is not expressed directly, but created through a gesture and arrangement of forms, and converted tonally to create a sign, metaphor, or symbol. When collided with manual (non-photographic) action and marking, this form of recording creates a peculiar construction and shape which derives from pop-art., experimental film, or the MTV style (in its positive sense, of course).
Bordering on different areas of artistic expression, it becomes a "borderline" photography - a hybrid which combines features of theater, staging, comic strips, illustrations, graphic symbols and painting expression. It presents an imaginary world, a new subjective reality, a unique and original pattern.
It is an interesting way which permits much freedom and artistic liberty, and which convinces us that distinctness and a new unique iconosphere is a challenge and a liberation at the same time, and that this, ambivalence and borderland can take us to unique imaginary world, an unmatched order told with an original language and with a deep artistic experience.
education : MA Graphic Design, Academy of Fine Art in Gdansk
fphotography, Kawiaret, Sopot 1997
photography, Teatr Miejski - Theatre Lobby, Gdynia 1997
photography, dworek Sierakowskich - dworek Sierakowskich Gallery, Sopot 1998
photography, "Konfrontacje '97", Gorzow Wielkopolski
photography, "Debiuty '97", Gdansk
poster, Festival de l'air du Temps, Francja - France 1997
fashion, SIFA, Warszawa 1997
f photography, "Konfrontacje '98", Gorzow Wielkopolski
photography, Teatr Miejski - Theatre Lobby, Gdynia 1998
photography, "Tomorrow is today", Poland, Japan, Nara, Osaka, Kyoto, Wroclaw, Krakow, Sopot 1999
photography, "Vztahy", House of Photography, Poprad, Slovakia, 1999
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