Majak delves into this esoteric world of the traditional healers, also called whisperers, who use prayer and a combination of religion and superstition to help and heal others, reviving a tradition abandoned some years ago, but thrives perhaps in the subconscious.
Katarzyna Majak explores the power of women in several guises, through alternative approaches to wisdom and spirituality. Her subjects are witches, healers, enchanters, visionaries and spiritual leaders - those who have been discriminated against in Catholic society throughout history. In a country like Poland, where 90% of the population is Catholic and all traces of the paganism of centuries ago have been wiped out, this alternative perspective is particularly striking. Poland once had a strong pagan tradition until Christianity was forcefully instated at the end of the tenth century. Through her portrait series Majak brings these women who are reviving these traditions today into the public eye. For many of her subjects it is the first time they are coming forth with this manifestation of power in a broader context.
In photographing her subjects Majak also engaged in interviews with these women in an effort to "present a counter to the seeming homogeneity by revealing the realm of those existing beyond the mainstream - witches, healers, enchanters, visionaries and spiritual leaders", as Majak herself explains. She delves into this esoteric world of the traditional healers, also called whisperers, who use prayer and a combination of religion and superstition to help and heal others, reviving a tradition abandoned some years ago, but thrives perhaps in the subconscious. Many of these modern-day whisperers travel the world in search of the roots and knowledge of ceremony and pagan tradition - often finding elements of witchcraft and demonology in the process. When asked what witchcraft meant to her one of the subjects in the series, she replied "When asked what being a witch meant to one of the subjects in the series, she replied "A witch is a woman of knowledge who takes a broom and sweeps to cleanse the world".
The series follows a narrative from a young woman in her thirties to a woman in her eighties from all over the country. She focuses on the power and wisdom that is symbolised by various elements of their dress and the expression in their eyes.
Katarzyna Majak received her B.F.A. in Photography at Poznań Academy of Fine Arts (now a PhD candidate). In 2002 she was an artist-in-residence at Florida - First Contact project at Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida. Majak continued her studies in the US when she was awarded a scholarship by Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Colorado in 2003. She is a member of editorial board and a regular contributor to Fotografia quarterly and had been a photography lecturer since 2003. In 2010 Majak was selected for 'Photographers' Network:2010', in Siegen, Germany. She has exhibited and curated throughout the U.S. and Poland. In early 2012 Majak was among the artists exhibted at the Artxwomen showcase at the Affordable Art Fair in Los Angele. She currently resides in Warsaw.
The series, previously shown at the at the Porter Contemporary gallery in New York earlier this year, is part of the 31 Women in Art Photography 2012, a biannual showcase presented at the Hasted Kraeutler Gallery, exhibiting 31 of the brightest talents in contemporary photography, from documentary works to multimedia experiments. It has been put together by the Humble Arts Foundation and Galeria Hasted Kraeutler, curated by Natalia Sacasa and Jon Feinstein. It was made possible thanks to the support of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.
Curator Natalia Sacasa says that reviewing the submissions for this year's edition gave her "a deeper understanding of the influences and motivations that drive the current generation of practicing female art photographers. This group of women that we have selected are truly furthering the limits of the medium and are simultaneously involved in the discourse of conceptual art".
The Humble Arts Foundation (founded in 2005) is committed to promoting the work of new photo-based artists. The New York-based nonprofit serves the international art community by way of exhibition and publishing opportunities, limited-edition print sales, biannual grants, and various special projects.
31 Women in Art Photography 2012 opens on the 26th of July at 6:00 pm. It runs between the 26th of July - 17 of August.
Other artists in the exhibition: Alma Leiva, Aneta Bartos, Camino Laguillo, Caroline Burghardt, Catrin Andersson, Erin O’Keefe, Gabriela Herman, Giulia Ranchetti, Jan Meissner, Jane Fulton Alt, Jennifer Greenburg, Karine Laval, Katarzyna Majak, Katherine di Turi, Laura Bell, Lauren Marsolier, Lois Conner, Lourdes Jeannette, Lydia Anne McCarthy, Mara Bodis-Wolner, Marget Long, Melissa Steckbauer, Miriam Romais, Monika Sziladi, Rachel Stern, Robyn Cumming, Susan Barnett, Susan Morelock, Tricia Lawless Murray, Wendy Given
For more information, see: www.hafny.org
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Majak's series will tour Eastern Europe later this year, making stops at the Central European House of Photography in Slovakia in December 2012, the Ethnographic Museum in Slovenia later this year, the Modern Art Museum in Wrocław in 2013 and Bielska Gallery in Poland in 2013. A book by the artist that includes interviews with the wise women and their portraits is also on the way.
See more on the artist at www.katarzynamajak.com
Editor: Agnieszka Le Nart
Source: Press information