Photographing – as it is commonly known – is inextricably bound with the process of voyeurism, looking that often transgress the borders of intimacy. Such is also the case when we work with archives – the remnants and fragments of somebody’s art pieces, but also his/her life.
The Eye Chamber photography installation authored by Tomasz Szerszeń describes the exchange of looks and glimpses which enter the space of the archive. Its reference point constitutes the body of work by Marek Piasecki (1935-2011), a photographer, artist working with heliographs, author of dolls, sculptures, and collages. Many of his photographs are of an intimate character, he often processes and exploits the motive of the perverse stare or voyeurism.
An Archive – this in particular, but also generally – is a place that keeps various secrets. Doesn’t it also apply to a darkroom or a photographer’s studio? It surely was the case of the one owned by Marek Piasecki; his amazing darkroom studio served as a workplace and the place of living. It was a space where he organized private shows – often aimed at one spectator only. It turned into a micro-theatre – two-handed and for two pairs of eyes.
In case of the installation created within the exhibition in the Archeology of Photography Foundation Gallery, we deal with the situation of a mutual, multiplied voyeurism, a game of doppelgangers – often intimate, always exposing. Creating the commentary to Piasecki’s work, Tomasz Szerszeń reaches for pieces from his own archive, those dating back to 2002 and thus to the time of his first photographic gestures. That is why, to the artist, The Eye Chamber becomes a way of archeological looking: at the archive, at Marek Piasecki, and finally, at himself.
Through his exhibition, Tomasz Szerszeń also questions the gender of the photographer’s gaze. Historically and culturally voyeurism and looking in general have been identified as masculine and as such have been oppressive. This is also the case of looking at the archive. Is it possible at all to free oneself from this trap?
The exhibition organized within the ‘Living Archives’ project.
Tomasz Szerszeń – (b. 1981) photographer and visual artist, anthropologist of culture, art researcher and curator. The author of books Podróżnicy bez mapy i paszportu / Journeys without a Map and a Passport (2015) and Architektura przetrwania / Architecture of Survival (2017) which received an honorable mention in the Photobook of the Year 2017 contest, the co-editor of Neorealism in Polish Photography 1950-1970 (2015, in collaboration with Rafał Lewandowski). He is the co-founder of the magazine View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture, the chief editor of Konteksty, and assistant professor in the Institute of Art at the Polish Academy of Sciences. His works and artistic projects have been presented both as solo exhibitions and as part of the group shows in i.a. Studio Gallery, Archeology of Photography Foundation, Nowy Theatre, Zachęta – National Gallery of Art, Asymetria Gallery, Exhibitions Bureau, Kordegarda Gallery, Fort Institute of Photography, Wolskie Centrum Kultury (Warsaw), MS in Lodz, Exchange Gallery (Lodz), Galerie Anne de Villepoix (Paris), Ludwig Museum (Budapest), Indie Photography Gallery (Tel Aviv), and also – three times (2012, 2013, 2014) during Paris Photo. He curated the exhibition What is Enlightenment? (2018, MSN – Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, in collaboration with Łukasz Ronduda and Goshka Macuga) and Transfert (2019, Studio Gallery in Warsaw, in collaboration with Dorota Jarecka, Natalia Andrzejewska, and Teodor Ajder). The co-author (together with Julia Holewińska and Radosław Duda) of the theatre play Hiroshima / Love (2019, Biennale Warszawa). Currently, he is working on the boon about Marek Piasecki.
Curators: Anna Hornik, Marta Przybyło, Agnieszka Rayss
Installation and exhibition design: Mateusz Wierzbicki/Willow Service
Sound space: Radosław Duda
Voice/Vocal: Julia Holewińska
Photographs by Marek Piasecki © Joanna Turowicz-Piasecka
PR: Steinke Communications
Editing: Anna Hornik
Translation: Aleksandra Szymczyk
The exhibition co-financed from Culture Promotion Fund of The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage;
The exhibition co-financed by the City of Warsaw