Andrzej Kramarz is a photographer and photojournalist who graduated from the Institute of Creative Photography in Opava. He is also a lecturer at University of Hawaii and Hawaii Community College. He was born in 1964 in Dębica. Using photography, found pictures, archives, audio and video he creates installation that reflects his interest/ exploration in notions of memory and the relationship between person and personal place.
Andrzej Kramarz studied at the Institute of Creative Photography in Opava, Czech Republic. He is a co-creator of the artistic group DRUT and music band Na Przykład (1985 - 1990). Between 1993 and 1996, he worked at Gazeta Krakowska. He is a co-founder of the Imago Mundi Foundation, co-organizer of the Krakow Photomonth and a member of Visavis.pl collective. He has won numerous photographic contests. He currently lectures on photography at Hawai'i Community College, University of Hawaii in Hilo and at the Academy of Photography in Krakow, Poland.
Since the beginning of the 1990s, Kramarz has been involved in documentary photography and photojournalism. He publishes his photos in magazines and presents his works in galleries. His photographic cycles taken in hospitals (Klinika / Clinic, 2002) and on Ukrainian beaches (Morze Czarne / The Black Sea) brought him considerable popularity. In his Rzeczy / Things (2007) project, he photographed the stalls of an antique fair, trying to grasp the crowding together of inanimate objects more than the atmosphere of a place. Kuba Dąbrowski wrote about this:
He effectively evades the nostalgic context of the place he photographs (…) what we see is hundreds of things. Things treated with respect. Things that we can look at or think about. Things which belonged to somebody and were used by somebody. A galaxy of things.
Co-authored by Weronika Łodzińska, the Home project portrayed people –monks, the homeless, circus performers, truck drivers – through the medium of their "domesticated" living spaces. A Piece of Land focused on the affinity we develop for memory of place as a result of traumatic experience.
The ongoing project Dom / Home, which Kramarz has carried out with photographer Weronika Łodzińska since 2003, has a similar documentary character. Even though the inhabitants of the titular homes are the main characters of the cycle, they never appear in the photographs in person. The places where they live are their reflection and their portrait. The photographs are sometimes supplemented with a very short description. Some of the cycles show an anthropological approach, similar to research on material conditions, social behaviour or lifestyles.
The first series of the Dom / Home project was taken at a homeless shelter in Nowa Huta (a district of Kraków) and was entitled 1,62m2 domu / 1,62m2 of Home (2003). This title refers to the surface area of the beds (reminiscent of a cell or hospital) used by the shelter’s inhabitants. Some of them tried to turn their beds into a poor substitute for private space. Respective photos were subtitled with information concerning the owners of photographed beds but as Wojciech Wilczyk mentioned:
Even without this additional information, these photographs can, using visual language, tell a lot about their protagonists.
Substitutes for home or privacy of a similar nature were photographed for Łodzińska and Kramasz's cycle Tiry / Lorries, which depicted the cabins of trucks adapted by their drivers into temporary homes.
Other subjects of Dom / Home project were the wagons of a circus troupe and the homes of Hobbiści / Hobbyists (2005-2007), entirely overwhelmed by their passions, filled with horror vacui aquariums or hunting trophies. In the French district of Haud du Lièvre Łodzińska and Kramasz photographed various spaces occupied by immigrants waiting to be granted asylum. Some of them brought customs from their native countries to France, others treated their flats as temporary, limiting their number of possessions to the absolute minimum. In the Podhale region, they were inspired by Białe izby / White Chambers (2003-2004), rooms in Highlanders’ houses which are used only on special occasions and have symbolic and representational functions. The duo's photographic and anthropological studies extend to other cultures – they created a series during travels abroad (Kashi Mumukshu, Bhawan Sabh, 2007). Kramarz independently supplemented the Dom / Home project with the cycle Cele mnisie / Monk’s cells, which shows how monks of different religions live today.
Andrzej Kramarz was involved in the Photo Proxima research project carried out by the Ethnographic Museum in Krakow, in collaboration with the Fratelli Alinari Museum of Photography, studying private collections of family photographs.
From 2008 to 2009 he worked on project A Piece of Land which was devoted to memory, and to something that departs irretrievably. Part of the cycle is the recordings of witnesses of the tragic events of the Second World War. However, the scope is broader because it also looks at more recent experiences in Bosnia. The tragic places are the medium of this project which intends to talk via them about the meaning of a place and about things located beyond photography.
In 2011 Kramarz exhibited another series of photograps entitled Loops. It is an intimate self-portrait of the author, built with images that depict his life in three places: Dębica, Kraków, and Hawaii. The works are made using many photographic techniques, ranging from photograms and pictorial abstractions to noble portraits.
In 2012 Kramarz went on a 10 months long journey across 48 states of USA. The trip resulted in the collection of photographs entitled Promised Land which depict Kramarz's personal experiences as seen through an immigrant's vision of the USA.
Andrzej Kramarz collaborates with his fellow photographers as curator and photobook editor. He contributed in this role to books published by Sputnik Photos: IS(not), with photographs by Michał Łuczak, Rafał Milach, Jan Brykczyński, Adam Pańczuk, and Agnieszka Rayss, Stand BY (with works by Brykczyński, Pańczuk, Milach, Rayss, as well as Andrei Liankevich, Justyna Mielnikiewicz and Manca Juvan) and One, two, buckle my shoe… created in collaboration with children who took part in workshops led by the photographers from the collective. He also edited Brutal by Michał Łuczak and Stefania Gurdowa: Negatives are to be Stored.
Author: Karol Sienkiewicz, December 2010. Translated by Wojciech Oleksiak April 14th 2014. Update: GS September 2014
Selected Grants and Awards