This subtle photograph depicts the reality of children’s hospitals – how the young patients grow up prematurely and how their guardians are helpless.
The above photo was taken in 2004 at the Institute of Mother and Child in Warsaw. Six-year-old Patrycja, terminally ill with a kidney tumour, comforts her blind mother. In this scene, apart from her loving touch, the subjects’ faces speak volumes. The photographer has successfully captured the emotions and special relationship between parent and child.
On her website, Bedyńska states that her photography focuses on sensitive issues, the fringes of society, and the modern role of women. The above picture is taken from a series she worked on for several months. Apart from photographing her subjects, she also spoke to them at length. ‘They treated me like a confessor,’ she said. It came as a relief for them to share painful experiences with an outsider. The photographer later admitted that, after these regular hospital visits, she needed to ‘get over’ the emotional burden. She explained that working on such a tough theme gave her the urge to disappear, to be invisible.
This photograph won Photo of the Year in the Grand Press Photo 2005 competition. Francesco Zizola, the head of the jury, summed up his choice as follows:
In a tender way, Bedyńska has shot a difficult, intimate scene that touches on matters of life and death. Hold Me Tight was one of her earliest works, and that special sensitivity to others has won her numerous awards.
Originally written in Polish, translated by MB, Nov 2018
This text is part of the project Metaphors of Independence: Poland In 100 Photos.
To coincide with the centenary of Poland regaining its independence, we have created a selection of photographs that allow us to understand both yesterday and today. A hundred photographs but so much more. Find out more.