Sylwia Kowalczyk at Gallery 525

This March at Gallery 525 Studies in Photography is displaying work by Polish photographer Sylwia Kowalczyk from Lethe, an exhibition hosted at Summerhall in 2019. She was featured in the Spring 2019 edition of Studies in Photography.
Sylwia Kowalczyk, Lethe
© Sylwia Kowalczyk, from the series Lethe

Lethe is the river that cleanses Dante in Purgatory, the one that wipes memories of the dead as they drink from it or bathe in it. The poet Sylvia Plath steps up from ‘the black car of Lethe, Pure as a baby’. It is an escape, a relief from our own physical limitations. ‘The soul that has been rash enough to drink from the fount of Lethe… is reincarnated and again cast into the cycle of becoming’, according to Mircea Eliade.

As important recollections slip from our memory, this loss brings its own kind of grief. The past becomes a vast, blank territory where even the most important memories from childhood are erased – if we do not remember them, perhaps these might as well not have happened in the first place.

Sylwia Kowalczyk, Lethe
© Sylwia Kowalczyk, from the series Lethe

It [is] important to mention here that all the trompe l’oeil ‘effects’ in my photos are not computer-generated but are always done in camera, building the images with paper, then the negatives are digitised for printing; I am not an artist that seeks out the darkroom and I only work in colour for which a digital darkroom is, I guess, easier. 

Sylwia Kowalczyk

…this tearing and reframing of the image is something that I wanted to explore. Sometimes an image needs to break to allow another form and connection to take place. I’ve created hundreds of printed images. The image can sometime take over; it holds you back from pushing to the next stage of how an idea could be explored. The work also builds on my relationships with individuals. Sometimes the idea for a final look arrives after trying out different images beside each other. Finding out what works involves building and dismantling until its right. As Moholy-Nagy said ‘The salvation of photography comes from the experiment’

Sylwia Kowalczyk
We would love to welcome you to Gallery 525 to see Lethe. Sylwia will be in The Gallery to give a short talk on her work on Wednesday 4th March. This talk is a free for SSHoP Members but ticketed please register below on Eventbrite. Members of the general public are also welcome and may buy a ticket via Eventbrite.

Contact us for further information.

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