“The people living in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned”.
Matthew 4:16 Isaiah 9:1,2
"You know, I am asking questions;
I challenge both myself and the viewer with my photography I like to think. Such matters are complicated and beyond our full understanding. I barely know any answers myself. I know some. I used to think that the older I got, the more I would know ... Paradoxically, the older I get the more I question things. I feel more comfortable asking questions rather than giving answers.
So yeah, I ask questions to myself and to all who see my pictures. There was a time in my life when I got into the habit of thinking about death daily. What death is for me? (What death is for you?); What will happen when the most important person in your life dies one day? Or even what will happen to this person…you know…after (?) Maybe it’s for good? Is there a point to fear death? I tend to analyze the subject from different angles. There is a lot to consider and it can be approached in many ways. Over recent years I build up this fascination with a kind of comfortable unconsciousness of death matters. That’s why I did “Immortals”.
When working on the 1st picture of “Let’s Talk about Life & Death Darling” I had Ingmar Bergman, one of my masters, in mind. Watching his “Seventh Seal” was a primary inspiration and a starting point of bringing this series to life. How to picture Death? Bergman’s way of doing that pushed me to search for my own response. It started as a fiction fed on my fascinations and fears. The project developed from fiction towards photographing the darker part of reality around me when Death knocked on the doors of my own home. Death stepped into my fantasy stories ruling the last two pictures of the series and opened chapter “Post Mortem Home Visits”. I thought that I was doing a project about the fear of death in general when starting. The events which took place in my home changed what the project means for me and made me realize what was it about from the very beginning (…).
5 portraits from “Let’s Talk about Life & Death Darling” were shot in churches between 2015-2018 on a medium format film camera and are titled “Woman in the Church No.1” with consecutive numbers 0-4.
The events opened “Post Mortem Home Visits“ when over a period of two years I photographed some members of my family. ”It's January 2018. Just after first Christmas without him. Around 7 months after his death” - that was the start of the series.
“Immortals” is inspired by the theme of a Baby Jesus Sleeping developed in iconography during the 17th century. The counterpoint between the beginning and the end of life was then bound together with the theme of Vanitas. The sleep of the infant Jesus symbolized the sleep of death and prefigured his future death and martyrdom. My approach is a reference to both a future death as well as the state of being unconscious to mortality issues in the early years of childhood. Their sleep is a symbol of their unawareness. I was photographing toddlers at the age when they start to understand what life is about, yet feeling immortal thanks to the comfortable unfamiliarity with mortal matters- I find this phenomenon fascinating.
“I Wish You Live Forever” is a set of constructed portraitures on the topics of mortality, passing time, death and rebirth. The subject is sourced from an emotional journey of mine: a period of a few years of depression towards a full recovery and finding a new way. I think of these portraits as emotional landscapes. Each picture has a different story behind it. It is not always vital who my models were. The aim was to catch my own mental states and emotions and translate them into images using other people as a tool for doing so.
Those pictures are about both Them and Me. Those pictures are of Them and about Me.
“Death No.1” depicts flowers leftover on graves, captured relatively soon after funeral ceremonies.
Thinking of time and its destructive powers was a starting point of working on this project. The fragility of life and passing time can be easily observed when having a flower as an object. I decided to photograph this object in a particular set of circumstances- in a direct context of a Human Death. This series explores my fascinations with “never”, “forever” and “always”. Observing the consequences of "time" fascinates me.
“Paradise Lost No.1” is about the time which has passed and can’t be retrieved, time which is gone forever. It’s about a lost childhood. The key detail on the first picture of a triptych is a fly on a boy’s finger. A fly might be read as a symbol of mortality. Project is inspired by the character of the boy from The Mirror, a movie by Andrei Tarkovsky. My focus when watching a movie was drawn into the character of a boy representing memories of childhood. This project is a fiction revisiting my own childhood and comes out of nostalgia over what is gone and lost forever.
My work is about Life and Death. I am fascinated by both.
What is always behind the image is a thought. The thoughts behind my photographs are my fascinations, fears and concerns related to existence and its ending. I use photography to record these. I am interested in the ‘memento mori’ theme.
Thinking of Time and its destructive powers is what drives my practice and shapes my ideas. I explore the notions of “never”, “forever” and “always”.
Work has been shot on negatives using a medium format film camera. All prints are limited editions.
Contact me for any inquiries you might have.
A few older pictures of mine can be found on The-Dots. I am present mostly on Instagram @karpinski_pi :