Karolina Jonderko photographed herself wearing the clothes of her mother, who had died of cancer a few years earlier.
In this photograph, she stands barefoot on the floor by a cracked white wall, dressed in a sweater, skirt and scarf – House Clothes, explains the caption below.
The above outfit is one of ten captured by the artist. Apart from this domestic version, there are also festive, holiday and winter outfits. Jonderko started taking photographs in her mother’s clothes because she found herself unable to come to terms with her death.
Ever since that family tragedy in 2008, the artist admits to continuously reliving past events. The idea for the series came to mind after finding one of her mother’s hairs on a coat. The photographs helped her endure the complex emotions and express her grief at the loss of her loved one. The series of works she exhibited at Bunkier Sztuki in 2012 was an attempt to summarise and deal with that difficult period. In an interview for Wysokie Obcasy, she said:
I didn’t have time to say goodbye. Only now am I bidding my mother farewell via my photographs, and expressing my hidden feelings. It isn’t easy; many things constantly remind me of her.
According to the artist, this self-therapy project ignited her passion for photography, and she went on to cover the theme of loss in later projects.
For me, Jonderko’s work is reminiscent of Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida – a note on photography written after the death of the French theoretician’s mother; his ponderings on the nature of photography, many of which were based on his reactions to a photograph he found of his mother. He also recalls being able to temporarily 'resurrect' his mother after finding objects that were present in photographs of her.
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.