The photographer and visual artist Anna Orłowska tells Culture.pl about her path from staging to analysis.
The photo festival in the French town of Arles in one of the world’s most prestigious events of its kind. The festival also organises a competition dedicated to up-and-coming photographers – the Discovery Award. To enter the competition, one has to be nominated by one of the five judges. A Polish organiser of numerous Łódź cultural events and the curator of this year’s Photography Triennale in Hamburg, Krzysztof Candrowicz, was one of the jury members this year. Thanks to him, Orłowska will have a chance to showcase her works. Candrowicz’s second nomination went to Ukrainian photo collective Shilo Group. In 2014, their works were exhibited in the Warsaw-based Asymetria gallery.
Other judges included Louise Clements, founder of the FORMAT festival, and Fannie Escoulen, an independent curator at the Paris Photo fair. This year's festival in Arles will begin on 6 July and will last until 20 September.
Anna Orłowska, a graduate of Łódź Film School, was nominated for her series Leakage, which was mentioned by Prof. Grzegorz Przyborek in his text about the exhibition:
We encounter a strange paradox – a mechanic reproduction of reality, product of our civilisation blends with a mental image, with some kind of a phantom. After all, this is how a myth is born, a myth which in Ania Orłowska’s photographs becomes believable, precisely thanks to her photographs.
Orłowska’s nomination is yet another important distinction in her career – in the past she has been noticed at reGeneration2 festival organised by the Museum in Lausanne, and she also won a competition in Hyeres (France) which granted her a year-long scholarship in New York.
Michał Dąbrowski, Culture.pl: Do you already know what you will show in Arles?
Anna Orłowska: Yes, first of all the Leakage series, because it’s the one nominated by Krzysztof Candrowicz for the Discovery Award. The exhibition will be supplemented with a few photographs from different projects.
Throughout the year, you’ve presented your works in Paris, Prague and Stockholm; how were they received?
Very well. In particular, the last exhibition in Stockholm received much acclaim. A few texts, reviews, and interviews were published thanks to the activity of Panoptikon gallery (Stockholm), which is hosting the exhibition, and the Polish Institute. The exhibition is closing shortly, but as far as I know it’s still being visited by more people encouraged by the positive reviews. In Paris I only showed a few works at the commercial Paris Photo fairs, but I also observed lots of positive reactions over there.
You began with universal portrayals and film narrations, but there is more analysis in your latest works.
I wanted to create less inbred and less introverted works, which would be based on elements well known to viewers, like gossip, notes, facts, information, annotations. The whole Case Study: Invisibility series was meant to be made entirely of these elements. I like the idea that the images I collected speak for themselves, I don’t have to explain why they came into existence, because they (in a documentary sense) simply existed. I picked them up and created a new message.
You’ve recently been reaching towards local contexts (beehives, Polish fashion) – why?
I think that I’ve always observed things around me. In my latest project – Case Study: Invisibility – I also use a documentary form, so the things and phenomena I’ve seen are shown point-blank, without reconstructing them from scratch like in the series Leakage. In Tribute to Moda Polska (Polish Fashion) I show particular local objects not in a simply documentary way, because I interfere with the way they are presented.
I think then, that this is an ostensible change, a result of a different photographing strategy, not because I’ve relocated my interest in the more or less local context. I admit, though, that maybe right now, more than before, I am interested in particular objects – like those beehives. Maybe because I thought that I had to create on my own, to build some kind of a metaphor, while now I see it in plain objects, in what I come across.
Author: Michał Dąbrowski, transl. Agata Dudek, 24/04/15.