Today, in the times of progressing digitalization and overproduction of digital pictures Karolina Majewska – painter, photographer and a postgraduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw (diploma of 2014) – she deliberately chose a uniquely rare drive to the internal discipline and a consent for self-limitations, which are required to make photos with a classical analogue camera. In her opinion, the thing that matters in photography is the grasp of the first, the most important Bressonian moment. Endowed with the precision of sight, when she observes the surrounding, she usually knows what and how she wants to photograph and that is why the chosen technique must be as reliable as possible. She usually takes her photos with the use of a couple of films, which she develops later on. However, the instant taking of thousands of photos with a digital camera frightens and frustrates her, as she prefers to decide without haste if the photos are what they were meant to be. She appreciates the conscious selection and rejection, that is why the choice of the analogue technique, which she assumed 9 years ago was the most natural one. When anticipating the development of her photos, which allows to obtain the required enlargement of the picture.
The cycles of minimalistic analogue photos with no titles come from Berlin, Venice, Rome, Oslo, Paris and London, which Karolina Majewska visited during her trips in the years 2012-2013 and 2013-2014. The camera is always her companion. Most willingly she takes photos of usual, anonymous places “without properties”, the non-places, which are everywhere to be found. She likes the banality of situations, sights and interiors. Most certainly they will not be futuristic, postcard-like “fireworks”. “Where is it?” – we will ask looking at them. Her photos bear a secret. Karolina Majewska is persistently looking for places with a certain climate and the renovated building from Venice, which was covered with sheets, appears to be much more interesting than the outstanding palazzo on Canale Grande. The photographer likes to notice the peculiarity in the usual properties of things, such as a bed in a room, shown in a striking, unreal light and the whole picture gives the impression of a mysterious climate of the interior, full of anxiety. In her photos Karolina Majewska multiplies the motives of curtains, covers, gates and windows burdened with a rich symbolic meaning. She is also taken by the coexistence of nature and the world created by a human being. Colors mean a lot in her works. She willingly gives up on strong, dominating colors and chooses the subtle, delicate shades of light green instead, which she obtains after the filtration of natural colors by the photographic film. The monochromatic nature of the refined pictures is enlivened only by the minor accents in certain places.
The artist works on the frames very carefully and conscientiously. Most often she ponders on the way how to multiply and sharpen the impression of the striking emptiness, which she deliberately applies. That is why she is always alone when taking her photos. She is relentless in focusing on documenting the emptied places, she eliminates accidental walkers as if they were actors, in order to pursue the traces of their presence and activity. And so she photographs
a deserted metro station, which is normally crowded by travelers and commuters. She photographs an empty cinema, where we usually meet people, which lets her compare her search to the experiments of the Japanese photographer, Hiroshi Sugimoto, who took pictures of isolated drive-in cinema screens, and also empty cinema and theater halls (the “Theatre” cycle). Karolina Majewska is interested with “the world without people”, who suddenly “left”. All leftovers, such as things, interiors and architecture are left on their own. The places, which are ordinarily associated with chaos are sterile, for example the tribunes of a sports object, where not even one snack wrapper can be seen. In other pictures, on the other hand, we can see a broken road sign, abandoned balloon and cigarette ends.
As the author has admitted, she likes when the spectator can feel the further action, the “life after life” of the photos. Was it a concert or another event at the stadium? – this is how we would comment on the photo of the abandoned sports hall. Who lives in the old camper situated at the side? Where from and why did he come to the place? – we would ask looking at another photograph taken by Karolina Majewska. The same technique was applied by the famous film director David Lynch in his black and white, raw cycle of photographs “The Factory Photographs” devoted to the postindustrial architecture of various cities. He showed in them the same things as in the movies: colorless industrial spaces, where apparently nothing happened, but they may have been an introduction to a story – also a movie. Is it worth telling, or maybe it would be better to leave it without words? – Karolina Majewska’s intriguing pictures are ideal for further contemplation. As she admits herself, she likes when the spectator “absorbs” the atmosphere
of the photo. When using her favorite motives, she gives us the essence of the things, which are common, but recorded by the artist in the photographs – they ideally remind us of the history of the places and their climate. It is much more precious than the ethereal effect of digital pictures.
The contemporary, silent, formally economic photos by Karolina Majewska – I would also place in the context of the “silent photography”. Apparently – “No style”, faithful to the “photographic objectivism”, basing on the series and operating on the supernaturally enlarged pictures, she goes back to the photographic ethos, which shaped in the first period of the development of this medium and which was applied in photography in the whole 20th century, starting from Éugène Atgèt, August Sander, Robert Frank and others. Those historical sources were also used by the New Photographical School, which was formed at the beginning of the seventies of the last century. It was created, among others, by Bernd and Hill Becher, teachers in the later Photography Class of the Düsseldorf Kunstakademie. Its most prominent students were Thomas Ruff, Candida Hofer, Axel Hütte, Thomas Struth and Andreas Gursky. They all developed creatively the things that they learned from their masters: both the objectivism of the “silent photography” as well as the most individual, conceptual reception.
Agnieszka Maria Wasieczko