‘FOSSILS OF THE PAST’
A camera in a photographer’s hand is a kind of eternal pen, writing down his inner tensions, among other things, for the future.’ – described the Polish photographer Jerzy Lewczyński his relation to the camera in an interview. Lewczyński started to create carefully composed photographs in the 1950s, depiciting symbolic objects and moments of everyday life influenced by the formal experiments of avant-garde art. Later he began to incorporate pictures of other authors, reproductions and found photographs in his work. This collection of images was Lewczyński’s artistic method of processing the past as well as his way of showing human interactions and emotions. The exhibition of Trapéz will be the first presentation in Budapest of his unique photographic practice featuring his works from the 1950s until the 1970s.
Jerzy Lewczyński resonated to Polish art at least twice. First, he surfaced as a participant of the “Closed Show” in Gliwice, on June 20, 1959. This installment gathered collected works of the informal artistic group, consisting of Lewczyński, Schlabs and Beksiński. They were later described as “anti-photographs”, in reference to the French post war, experimental anti-novels.
While Schlabs presented abstract photographs and Beksiński his iconoclastic assemblies, Lewczyński revealed his agenda as the one of exploration of an almost Agambenian rest – something that cannot be saved, but still offers the possibility of salvation. Among inedita, shreds and margins displayed by Lewczyński were photos of torn posters, Hebrew tombstone inscriptions, children’s handwritings or back of the envelope calculations.
Years later, he formulated the program of “archeology of photography” which encourages public to appreciate vernacular photography. In fact, since the 1960s and throughout the 1970s, Lewczyński increasingly incorporates pictures and negatives of other photographers to mix and sample them into original works. Similar practices fit perfectly with the postmodern art of appropriation and play the subtle game with meanings and essences.
The Trapéz Gallery exhibition presents works from both mentioned periods. It raises question of the extent to which anti-photography anticipated archeology and also provokes to investigate whether these two can be distinguished by the clear cut.