Two artists, a photographer and a filmmaker, created images of contemporary cities in Poland and Brazil. This year their exhibition will be showcased in Kraków, and next year in São Paulo, as part of the Polish culture in Brazil 2016 programme organised by Culture.pl.
Both the photographs by Cristian Mascar and Sławomir Rumiak’s documentary film handle the urban landscape as a means of telling a story about humans, even when there isn’t one around. Steen Eiler Rasmusse, a famous Danish architect, wrote in Experiencing Architecture:
Architecture is a very special functional art; it confines space so we can dwell in it, creates the framework around our lives.
The Brazilian photographer embeded a similar idea into his black and white photos which document four cities: Gdańsk, Warsaw, Łódź and Kraków. Initially, during his three trips to Poland, Mascaro observed places of work – closed factories – then he focused on housing and finally, on people’s private areas.
By combining his artistic sensitiveness and photographic passion with architectural knowledge, Mascaro transforms the urban space into a museum of time. He constructed a world full of interesting and often scary shots. The apparent harmony of geometric elements is knocked down with a perspective atypical for documentary photographs. His chiaroscuro art emphasises the contrast between the static composition of a building and the dynamic content of the photography itself – in traces of human’s existence.
Sławomir Rumiak’s documentary, an integral element of the exhibition, shows São Paulo as one of world’s largest metropolises. The Polish multimedia artist created an image presenting the multi-million agglomeration with virtually none of its inhabitants. If a figure appears on the screen, it rises to a higher meaning – of a human seeking his own place in this world.
This documentary shows the history of Mario de Andrade’s Macunaima, from a novel of the same title, filmed by Joaquim Pedro de Andrade in 1969. It’s a character from American Indian legends, an impersonation of a mythical being seeking its own self. Rumiak’s work also relates to the need of finding one’s identity and to the pursuit of dreams.
The two travellers listened to the sounds of streets, noticing and capturing what can be unnoticed and faint. They charted a subjective trail of “places unknown”, culturally foreign. This view from a distance, with the eyes of a stranger, enabled them to discover the cities’ history anew.
Cristian Mascaro has been interested in the urban landscape for many years now. In 1968 he obtained a diploma in architecture and city planning from the São Paulo University, where he also got his PhD. Now he takes photographs, mainly architecture. As opposed to the famous couple of German photographers, Bernd and Hilla Becher, he doesn’t focus on archiving vanishing industrial forms. Mascaro uses the visual medium to analyse identity, memory, space. His documentary photographs from Buenos Aires, Havana, Berlin, Paris, New York, Tokyo and São Paulo are presented on numerous exhibitions and are parts of private and public collections (e.g. in Centre Pompidou).
Sławomir Rumiak’s photographic works have also became popular, like the Prêt-à-Porter project (2004), where the artist outlined a woman’s image in mass culture. The Polish photographer, author of video installations and illustrator is very well known to Japanese audience. He lectures at Japanese schools and in 2003 his album Love Book was distinguished in the 246 Loaded Photography Books: The Edge of Photography anthology. He’s the only artist to have an entire chapter devoted to his works in this publication. Rumiak’s works also took part in numerous foreign exhibitions, for example in Zollverein in Essen in the frameworks of Erinnerung an Arbeit / Memory of Work; his photographs were published in Asahi Camera, Nippon Camera, Yaso, Brain, S magazine, Burst, Foto, Focus and Opcje.
The Traces of People exhibition. Mascaro / Sławomir Rumiak will be open from 28 March to 7 June 2015 in the International Cultural Centre in Kraków. The exhibition will be accompanied by numerous events and educational activities, and it will be followed by a Polish-English publication. The exhibition will then be showcased in Instituto Tomie Ohtake in São Paulo in the framework of Polish culture in Brazil 2016 programme, which is organised by Culture.pl.
Idea and exhibition’s concept: Stephan Stroux
Curator: Stephan Stroux
Co-curator from MCK: Natalia Żak
Coordination: Regina Pytlik
Exhibition’s arrangement: Stephan Stroux, Maria Paszkowska
Co-operation: Aleksander Gowin, Dorota Kwinta (Culture.pl)
Source: press materials, own materials, edit. AW, transl. Agata Dudek 25/03/15