SPUTNIK. “Is(not)”, 06.09 — 06.10

5 POLISH PHOTOGRAPHERS, 5 ICELANDIC WRITERS, 1 ISLAND

To understand another human being is to get a better understanding of oneself. On the Old Continent, the part of the Other has already been cast – it is played by a strange, small country halfway between Europe and America, inhabited by elves and EU opponents. To get to know this country, one must grapple with media cliches – those of a wealthy state, until recently, now plunged into financial crisis, or of the land of picturesque volcanoes, capable of paralyzing air traffic over half of Europe. The photographers of Sputnik Photos have decided to take on these cliches and capture the essence of Iceland, the essence of humanity.

Their point of departure was the islands pagan tradition – myths, legends and stories passed down through generations, whose presence can still be strongly felt in the lives of Icelanders.
The photographer Adam Panczuk accompanied by the writer Sindri Freysson set out on a quest to uncover tbe building blocks of tbe islanders’ mentality, basing their enquiry on Icelandic mythology. The ensuing photographs are a veritable “Check!’ to the exported ontology, worked out for the needs of the external, tourist-oriented world.

For Michal Luczak and Hermann Stcfanason the journey towards an understanding of Iceland led from the logic of the supernatural to the often merciless laws of nature. The photographs of Michai Luczak take one through birth and death; through life – with its loneliness, brotherhood, despair and wonder – stretched out between these two extremities. We are made to experience boundary situations accompanying tbe islanders’ daily struggle with the wilderness. No place here for superfluous effort or any action beyond that necessary to survive. There is steadiness of breath, calm, and time for coffee served in chipped mugs.

The photographs of Jan Brykczynski portray a family in which animals occupy a place on par with humans. Watering horses or grazing sheep turns out to be as central as a daily shared meal. The life cycle depicted has been described by the writer Kristin Hcida Kristinsddctir. Everyday tasks come to be ritualized. Looking at the family and the herd Jan Brykczynski seems to ask – are we really that different from one another at the end of the day?

Agnieszka Rayss, together with the poet Sigurbjorg Вrastardottir, have positioned themselves on the shores of Icelandic lakes and at the edge of modem swimming pools. The authoresses have taken a look at natural water reservoirs, present in the lives of the islanders since time immemorial, as well as luxury tourism, which made an appearance in Iceland with the advent of new technologies. Water has proven to be Iceland’s gold. Nature was domesticated. then sold.

Entering this named and seemingly safe space arc the photographs of Rafai Milach. His hunger for experience and desire to touch everything he encounters during his voyage across the island, the need to peek into every comer, to write “I was here” all over every person met wreak havoc upon the order just established. Thousands of objects cry out for commentary, demand a justification of their presence. The people pictured do of course have names, bur the photographs are more reminiscent of a botanist’s notebook than of a family album. Do these people really exist? We have come full circle. Accompanying these photographic notes is the personal travel diary of Huldar Breidfjord.

To get to know the Other, to move from ignorance to undemanding. the photographers traveled from the continent to the island. Having come from the outside, they discovered the country from the inside, from the perspective of the Icelandic writers they were accompanied by as well as people they met on the island. Coming to terms with stereotypes, they sought an individual experience. Yet the more they got to know Iceland, the more they realized how little about it they actually knew. Having come for answers, they left with questions. Questions about what the island was. and about who we are.

Curator: Andrzej Kramarz

icelandictales.sputnikphotos.com

06.09 — 06.10
“Canteen XYZ” Gallery

14:00 – 22:00, daily

06.09
Opening

“Canteen XYZ” Gallery, 19:00