Though it might look like any other Polish chapel from the outside, the Kaplica Czaszek chapel sets itself apart: behind a humble pair of wooden doors, it contains the bones of thousands. After visiting shallow grave sites commemorating the fallen soldiers and civilians killed in the Silesian Wars, the Thirty Years’ War, plagues, and cholera, a local priest named Vaclav Tomasek collected and cleaned skeletal remains, embedding them in the chapel walls.
Constructed between 1776 and 1804, the building’s architecture stunningly deconstructs the human skeleton; skulls and leg bones are meticulously arranged over the ceilings and walls, while other bones are hidden behind a trapdoor and kept in a crypt. The repetitive patterns that emerge from a single human bone laid out a thousand times over serves to remind us of our connectedness; while each individual femur or cranium stands in for a deceased individual, it takes on a deeper, more universal meaning as part of this expertly-constructed whole.
Within this celebration of oneness, Tomasek set apart strange and unusual bones, placing them on the church altar. Alongside the skull of a mayor and the chapel founder, sits a skull morphed by syphilis, one of a rumored giant, and a few penetrated by bullets. In this way, the structure daringly elevates the macabre—and those who suffered from uncommon maladies—to the spiritual level of relics left behind by local religious and political leaders.
Within the context of the church and its representations of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ, the remains offer a potent juxtaposition between the spiritual and the corporeal. Visitors cannot escape this powerful reminder of mortality, but if they so wish, they are poignantly invited to consider the possibility of salvation and eternal life. (via Lost at E Minor and Smithsonian Magazine)
Katarzyna Majak‘s “Women of Power” photography series captures the faces and dress of earth-worshipping Polish women who are powerful among their particular spiritual sectors. The vast majority of Poland’s people (90%) are practicing Catholics. When Christianity was introduced to Poland a few centuries ago, it erased most traces of paganism, witchcraft, and shamanic traditions. The women Majak photographs – ranging in age from their 30’s to their 80’s – represent the very small minority of Polish women who practice alternative spirituality. For many of these women, this series depicts their first public display of power. They “practice a wide range of spiritual paths and spiritual systems. A few are traditional healers (so called ‘whisperers’ who mix religion with primeval superstitions to heal and remove spells using prayers) whose traditions survived on the Belarusian border. Some are women who had grandmothers who could ‘see’ or were herbal healers and who are working to revive what would otherwise be dead traditions.”
Ilona Szwarc is a photographer originally from Poland who now lives in the United States and has rightfully fascinated with American Culture. American Girls, named after the doll series, is a study of said culture that investigates gender,beauty, and identity in the context of decks with cadillac barbecues, country mansions, and skyscraper porches. The style of her photographs is, like the our culture encourages us to be, perfect, too–styling the girls exactly and directing them to look as expressionless as the dolls they cherish. But the images aren’t condescending, exploitative, or preachy–they just express a genuine interest in the hyperbole that is American gender culture. Still in the SVA already with a body of Diane Arbus quality work, keep your eye out for great things to come from this girl. (via)
Polish photographer Pawel Fabjanski serves up a nice blend of commercial/fashion aesthetics and personal input within his work. He brings a mysterious, postmodern edge to everything he does, whether it be a portrait of a girl with red pyramids attached to her face, or a troop of nondescript people in weird, pink lab attire (above). Touching on themes of alienation and “man’s response to the environment”, each photo gives you just the right amount of chills. Fabjanski also spends time teaching at the National Film School in Lodz.
String woven to look like lace from NeSpoon, of Warsaw Poland. NeSpoon weaves designs into locations all over the artist’s native Poland and elsewhere, These images are taken from a recent project on the coast of the Baltic Sea. Nice to see people interacting in and around each piece. Each installation looks so natural in it’s setting, as though they just floated in on a breeze or washed ashore underneath a wave. When people hustle so hard to get noticed and make their mark everywhere, it’s nice to see NeSpoon making art that’s in perfect balance with the rest of the world. In this way, everything around us, man-made or not, takes on an unprecedented beauty. (via)
Brazilian cultural organization SESC opens their massive arts show today. As part of the event, Polish “crochet-bombing” artist Olek has added her characteristic textile treatment to a giant crocodile installation in Sao Paulo, where the event is based. The huge, attention-demanding piece was produced in close cooperation with local Brazilian artists. Olek has gained attention for her idiosyncratic hot pink camo-patterned designs, and her ruthless street and gallery installations involving miscellaneous objects wrapped completely in crocheted stitching. The artist has applied her technique to cars, people, Wall Street’s Charging Bull, and more. See images of the recent Sao Paulo piece and examples of various past projects after the jump. (via)
I don’t know too much about Jagoda Boruch, except that this shooter is 19 years old and lives in Poland… and apparantly has an affinity for obstructing the faces of the people she photographs. At least, that’s the case in this series of images; whereby Jagoda omits the face but reveals the frankness of life’s quirks instead.