The understated works in The Day Before series show times of deep reflection before critical events in women’s lives.
The concept for this photographic series arose as a reaction, when numerous people in the artist’s circles decided to alter their marital status. Orłowska was interested in the thoughts and feelings that might have accompanied those turning points – a mixture of uncertainty and hope; a chance to see yourself in a new light and realise the consequences of current or past decisions.
Orłowska’s photographs are staged, simultaneously reproducing fragments of reality while fantasising on the theme. She has approached the task like a film: preparing storyboards, finding the right locations, arranging the lighting, and selecting her models. The photographs feature young women, as well as the artist herself.
The above photograph shows a scene shot in a house at night, perhaps after a party or some other special occasion. A woman is washing up, alone in an empty kitchen with balloons lying on the floor. The warm lamp-lit atmosphere is contrasted by the cold whiteness from the open refrigerator. Orłowska has caught a momentary lull in the hubbub, possibly an escape from the anticipated paradise, like in Lars von Trier’s Melancholia. The picture captures a moment of dawning realisation; the kind that might strike you when doing the housework.
Orłowska’s works depict women at pivotal moments and hint at a continuation, but these stories are unfinished; stills from a non-existent film. By dwelling on doubts and ideas that crop up before weddings and births, Orłowska refers to the societal roles adopted by women, and leaves them room to wonder.
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.