Krzysztof Pijarski is an art historian, a translator, and an artist who uses the medium of photography. He was born in 1980. His works address the issue of the fate of images in the post-modern world.
His works often undermine the role of photography as a medium for representation and history, for instance, in his early works Zoo and Ex-Posed / Ex-pozycje. The museums and zoos photographed by the artist are presented to us, as the artist explains, as “places of re-presentation and re-construction”, but are actually places of staging: a paddock substitutes the natural landscape, a museum offers the visitors an incomplete (and seemingly objective) vision of reality. Similar issues were addressed by Pijarski’s later works, such as MWP (2007) which was realized at the Museum of the Polish Army, or castle / zamek which was created at the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle.
In 2012, Pijarski presented Lives of the Unholy / Żywoty nieświętych together with Tomasz Szerszeń (amongst others, at the festival Paris Photo). This project was published as an art book in 2013 (publishers: Faf and Fotohof).
In this project the artist takes a look at the demolition of monuments which took place in the transformation period in Poland. Here he is interested in the question of whether these monuments are visible or non-visible. Some of them were completely destroyed, others still exist but are symbolically invisible.
The Archaeology of Photography
Together with the Archaeology of Photography Foundation, Pijarski worked on exhibitions of classic Polish artists – Zbigniew Dłubak and Jerzy Lewczyński. One may read about Pijarski’s collaboration concerning Zbigniew Dłubak on the foundation's website:
Pijarski unsteadily explores Dłubak’s collection. This exploration is driven by emotion rather than by the rigorous logic of historical research. He allows himself to delve into materials that may seem unimportant considering the main body of Dłubak’s work.
JL – KP is the result of collaboration with Jerzy Lewczyński, and is a homage to and deconstruction of this greatly important figure of Polish photography. Pijarski chose works that show Lewczyński in a new light, as a jester and joker, from the photographer's archive. The pictures chosen by Pijarski include photos that bring to mind Witkacy’s game of faces.
After the End of Photoreportage
In 2011 Krzysztof Pijarski gave a series of lectures at the Warsaw Museum of Modern Art. He explained the slightly provocative title with these words:
It’s not about declaring the death of reportage, it’s about showing that the conventions of reportage don’t correspond with the condition of contemporary representation.
The lectures were about artists who distance themselves from what is current and often try to have a controversial, detached viewpoint. In doing so they debunk the myth of universal and immediate access to the world.
The very warmly received lectures led to meetings with the photographers Thomas Demand and David Golblatt and with André Rouillé, the author of the publication Photography: Between a Document and Contemporary Art.
Records of all these meetings may be found at the website artmuseum.pl.
(Post)modern Fates of Images
The publication (Post)modern Fates of Images / (Po)nowoczesne losy obrazów (2013) published by the Łódź Film School contains two large essays:
- The Place of Images. On Thomas Struth’s Museum Photographs
- Photography between an Archive and a Story. Allan Sekula’s Materialsim
The first text is about the works of the German photographer Thomas Struth, a representative of the so-called Düsseldorf school who discovered a photographic way of presenting easel paintings. The second is about Allan Sekula, an American known for his critical position on the idea of photography being a fine art. In his artistic practice he draws on the tradition of conceptualism. Struth and Sekula are among the most important contemporary artists using the medium of photography.
(Post)modern Fates of Images was distinguished by the Society of Art Historians (2013). This publication was also distinguished for its layout at the 20th Science Book Fair (2014).
Krzysztof Pijarski has published texts in Camera Austria, Teksty Drugie, Kultura Współczesna and Obieg, amongst others. His PhD thesis was devoted to Michael Fried, an art historian dealing with modernism in art and photography.
The artist’s website: pijarski.art.pl
- Krzysztof Pijarski/Jerzy Lewczyński – Playing Archive / Krzysztof Pijarski/Jerzy Lewczyński – Gra w Archiwum, Asymetria Gallery/Archaeology of Photography Foundation, Warsaw
- Dłubak – Sources / Dłubak – Źródła, Asymetria Gallery/Archaeology of Photography Foundation, Warsaw
- MSŁ, Okna Gallery, Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw
- Ex-Posed / Eks-pozycje, PF Gallery, Poznań (an exhibition with a catalogue)
- Black Portraits / Czarne Portrety, Zakręt Gallery, Warsaw
- (Family) Portriats in an Interior / Portrety (rodzinne) we wnętrzu
- Prague Biennale 5, in the framework of the exhibition Inside - Outside: Some Aspects of Contemporary Polish Photography
- Central Archive / Archiwum Centralne, Kraków Photomonth 2009
- Designation / Desygnacja, pARTer Gallery, Kłodzko Cultural Centre, an exhibition organized in the framework of the 10th edition of the Labirynt Festival of New Art
- The Red-Eye Effect. 21st Century Polish Photography / Efekt czerwonych oczu. Fotografia polska XXI wieku, Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle
- Antiphotographs / Antyfotografie, the main exhibition of the 5th Photography Biennial, Arsenał Municipal Gallery in Poznań, curator: Adam Mazur 2007
- Participation in the Prague Qudrennial (a showing of slides from the series MWP which was organized in the framework of the Polish presentation) 2007
- At the Very Centre of Attention: New Documentalists / W samym centrum uwagi: nowi dokumentaliści, Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle 2006
- An exhibition in the framework of the project The Experimenter & the Art of Perception, Artpool, Art Research Center, Budapest 2005
- Krzysztof Pijarski, Krzysztof Pijarski/Jerzy Lewczyński. Playing Archive / Krzysztof Pijarski/Jerzy Lewczyński. Gra w Archiwum, Archeology of Photography Foundation, Warsaw 2011 (art book)
- The project Hommage á Lewczyński opens Adam Mazur’s book, A History of Photography in Poland 1839-2009 / Historie fotografii w Polsce 1839-2009 (Kraków 2009), which is the first history of photography in Poland published after 1989.
- New Documentalists / Nowi Dokumentaliści in Adam Mazur’s I Love Photography / Kocham fotografię, a selection of texts 1999-2009, Warsaw 2009, pp. 197-219
- Dłubak – Sources / Dłubak – Źródła, [in:] Kraków Photomonth May 2009 (exhibition catalogue), edited by: Karol Hordziej, Wojciech Nowicki, Kraków 2009, pp. 238-247 (a presentation of a project)
Author: Michał Dąbrowski Transl. MK November 2014