At first sight, you might find that there is nothing particularly unusual with Polish photographer Weronika Gesicka’s pictures, and she knows it very well. In her new project Traces, she wants us first to believe what we see, and then question the thin line between truth and fiction.
Interested in themes related to memory and its mechanisms, Gesicka likes to explore the tension between reality and the imaginary. Are our memories always authentic? Aren’t they unconsciously altered in our minds to be blurred into a new reality? Even our recollections of people’s faces we haven’t seen in a long time gradually fade and transform.
“The project is based on vintage photographs purchased from an image bank,” said Gesicka to The Guardian. “Most of these photos came from American archives from the 1950s and 1960s.”
To create her unsettling images, she manipulates existing photographs into surreal and uncomfortable pictures. Reality is replaced by fiction, if not the other way around. From family scenes to vacation souvenirs, these captured memories are the surviving traces from past situations that we don’t know anything about.
We don’t know who the people in the photographs are, or even if they are real. These situations could be staged with actors, or entirely genuine with real people whose family pictures ended up in an image bank. This uncertainty combined with an underlying anxiety reinforces their nightmarish aspect.
Although distorted, these scenes are still disturbingly plausible as Gesicka manages to insert her photos in new contexts. This duality is reminiscent of what we explore in dreams: everything looks real until you realise that something is a little bit off.
Through this process of alteration – focusing on specific objects, gestures, or background elements of a picture that she decides to reproduce, expand, or erase completely – she rewrites the story: “I try to erase as much as I can the difference between an original image and my own alteration, creating a completely new history at the same time.”
Playing with shapes, materials, faces, and bodies, Weronika Gesicka creates the impossible.
Don’t forget to check out her work here.
Words: Pauline Schnoebelen
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