The book constitutes the culmination of the photographic project as well as exposes its structure. It not only contains reproductions of Bownik's pictures, but also a selection of illustrations from botanical books which functioned as the starting points for his work on individual photographic compositions, thus bearing traces of the artist's intervention – elements of collage, sketches, and so on. In some ways the structure of the album corresponds to the vegetative cycle: it starts with inspiration and the iconographic roots of the project, to move on to fragments of the plants photographed by Bownik, which are gradually replaced by photographs of entire plants. That is the climax, after which we return to fragments of photos and reach the iconographic material, manipulated by the author – the cycle concludes at the stage of repeated decay, the titular disassembly, while everything is enveloped by a cover showing the tabletop before and after the dissection performed by the artist.
The meeting of two personalities – the photographer Bownik with Honza Zamojski, an artist, graphic designer, and publisher – resulted in the creation of an orgiastic whole, an artwork in its own right, completely focused on the visual layer – the text materials were printed on a separate insert included in the book. The illustrations fill entire pages, without any margins or even page numbers. Juxtaposition of beauty and artificiality, which is typical of Bownik, also emanates from the pages of this book. The twenty-four photographs that originally formed the series were somewhat multiplied here in order to create a new entity – an art book. Bownik and Zamojski play with conventions, assemble and disassemble images, twist the convention of a book, forge a construction that is as beautiful as it is sophisticatedly synthetic and frowsty. The point of reference is not so much nature (represented by plants), as art and photography itself (an obvious reference to Karl Blossfeldt, but also an astounding amount of botanical albums from the times of the Polish People's Republic), as well as the format of a photographic series and of a photobook. The nearly ostentatious totality of this project, refined both when it comes to its conceptual structure, as well as the typographic and printed details, is also a kind of editorial manifesto. The book was released as one of three titles inaugurating the activity of the new publishing house founded by Zamojski and a contemporary art patron and collector, Grażyna Kulczyk. The visual quality of Disassembly is indeed radically different from most of its contemporary Polish photobooks, which are dominated by textual narrative to a much larger extent.
texts: Andrew Berardini, Jakub Śwircz, and Bownik
graphic design: Honza Zamojski
publisher: Mundin, Poznań
year of publication: 2013
volume: 120 + 12 pages
format: 30.5 x 24 cm
cover: cardboard hardcover
print run: 1 000
Original text: polishphotobook.tumbrl.com
, transl. Ania Micińska, August, 2015