Photographer, born in 1978. Adam Pańczuk is a graduate fom the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań, and member of the Sputnik Photos collective.
Photographer, member of the Sputnik Photos collective.
“As far as the manner of display is concerned, I like to combine documentary photography with elements of creation and the extraction of additional meaning from the commonplace” – says Adam Pańczuk. Pańczuk began his career in photojournalism with a clearly humanist approach. After the year 2000 he made many trips to Asia: in India he photographed rickshaw drivers on the streets of Delhi (2000), in Bangkok he documented the life of Thai prostitutes (2001), in Cambodia he examined the lives of monks at the temple of Angkor Wat (2002), and his visit to Pakistan led to a report on illegal arms factories (2003). In 2001 he stopped off briefly in London, where he put together material about illegal immigrants entering the UK for employment purposes.
Since 2005 Pańczuk has begun systematically documenting life in the Polish countryside. “I wanted to show the everyday life of villagers following Poland’s entry into the European Union” – he says. For this photo-ethnographic exploration he chose his hometown area. In 2005–2006 he put together a series of black and white photographs entitled In the Rhythm of the Land, which portray the life of small hamlets in the Lublin province. At the same time, in the village of Lubenka he photographed the amateur actors of the Czeladońka ritual theatre, who work by day in the fields and in the evening prepare their performances. In this way Pańczuk crosses over from photographing everyday life in the countryside to the portrayal of its residents, the most meaningful example of which are his portraits entitled Karczeby (2008–2009). “This was a game enjoyed by both sides, a common process of inventing props and the places in which the portraits were to be taken” – he says in an interview with Mariusz Śledź. This series of photographs, which won many awards in Poland and abroad, took its title from the Chachłacka dialect (a mixture of Polish and Belarussian). “‘Karczeb’ is a tree stump with roots deep in the earth” – explains the artist, whose aim was to capture the links now fading into the past between man and nature. From being documentary, Pańczuk’s black and white analogue shots have imperceptibly become creative, symbolic photographs. “The people I portray are attached to the places in which I photograph them, these are their farmyards or fields. […] All the objects they hold in the pictures belong to them.”
A similar approach could be observed in the collection of portraits dubbed Very Hidden People (2011), produced in collaboration with the writer Sindri Freysson, in which Pańczuk presented Icelanders through the prism of their belief in elves. This project, awarded second prize in the 68th Pictures of the Year international competition, came about within the framework of the IS(not) project initiated by the Sputnik Photos society, to which Pańczuk has belonged since 2010. In 2011 the photographer also joined Picturetank. His work has been shown many times in both Polish and foreign art galleries and has been awarded prizes in national and international photographic competitions (among others BZ WBK, Grand Press Photo, Magnum Expression Award, Sony World Photography Awards).
Adam Pańczuk's website: adampanczuk.pl
The original text was published in The Decisive Moment. New Phenomena in Polish Photography Since 2000, Karakter, 2012
Author: Adam Mazur, October 2012