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Theatre Photography at the Grotowski Institute

This exhibition showcases the work of photographers produced in the current theatre season, documenting the events in the spaces of the Grotowski Institute and the Academy of Theatre Arts in Wrocław, among other venues.

Photographers: Magdalena Cydzik, Barth Jaśkiewicz, Alisa Kisel, Katarzyna Anna Kubiak, Mateusz Lato, Ewa Pawęzka, Jarosław Perduta, Oliwia Płóciennik, Radosław Rzepka, Jakub Samogranicki, Jakub Sosnowski, Zuzanna Ślusarczyk, Aleksandra Zegar, Kazimierz Ździebło

‘I do not regard theatre photography as staged. It is energetic photography, based on a flow of emotions (both those of the actor and the photographer) and an intensified manner of perceiving contemporary spectacles. It also attempts to transfer corporeal experiences and is supposed to be a visual part of that experience even if sometimes it turns out to be a mere substitute. Hence, the photographer working in the course of a rehearsal should become the actor’s sui generis partner in a relation when he still does not have at his disposal an ordinary audience and consequently is capable of capturing emotions which the actor can extract by playing solely in front of a live person and not a film camera or and empty theatre hall. The actor’s corporeality (even if only in emotion, emploi, facial expressions, and motion) and that of the photographer (even if only in the applied perspective of vision and the adopted distance and posture of the body vis-à-vis the actor) should meet in a symbiotic and visible manner in the photograph. After all, the perspective proposed by the photographer replaces the process of the spectator watching the spectacle. (…)

Taking into consideration the fact that it is impossible to document the theatre in a complete and precise manner (in fact this impossibility constitutes its greatest power), it might be whorthwhile to assume that the creative ambiguity of theatre photography could be its asset and correspond precisely to the specific conventionality of the theatre as a medium. It will then become a tool indispensable for extracting the meanings and essence of the spectacle and make it possible to slowly accentuate and synthesize those fleeting aspects of spectacle which are generally rather difficult to convey verbally (i.a. its energy, atmosphere, and interactions between particular elements). (…)

Theatre photography should thus reflect and emphasize all those performative imponderabilia, fleeting relations, and potencial sentiments of the recipients as best as possible, naturally while taking into consideration that this feat will not always be possible. Such photography will function as a sui generis inter-media translation: owing to the differences of codes it will not, however, be entirely accurate – usually it must become an auteur creation, preserving its independence regarding the conceptions proposed by the director and stage design. Visuality in the theatre is not, as a rule, the strongest mean of expression; in the majority of cases the theatre is by definition composed activity (or the process of taking place) and not an image (even if it actually creates images), and as a rule prioritizes other qualities, invisible and not easily translatable into a photographic image. (…)

In my opinion, however, the most important is for that which is presented in a theatre photograph to comprise, instead of a static, material or technical image of particular elements out which the spectacle is created, a dynamic and „living” form, with which the (traditionally comprehended) actor-person will compete and contend for attention (also visual). A form in which he would like to find himself or from which he would want to extract himself. Is this not the fundamental philosophical situation of man in contemporary postmodern reality?’