Andrzej Kramarz

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(Home  (2004-2009   
  Photographs by Andrzej Kramarz and Weronika Łodzińska-Duda   
my home is where my heart is?
There is a well-known saying that home is where the heart is. It means that the feeling of being at home, and of fulfilment, is closely related to what we love. On the other hand, it also suggests that real homes, with all their contents, are the images of our hearts; true reflections of our dreams, convictions and ideals.
Since the dawn of time, people have tried to get to know and understand the world around them, depicting it in the interiors of their homes. Hunters from Lascaux, whose lives depended on the hunts, captured reality by painting these chases on the cave walls. In the yurts and tents of nomads there was a place for the axis of the world (axis mundi) – a central beam connecting “mother earth” and “father sky” – as well as feathers and claws of totemic animals and representations of guardian spirits. A bonfire, like the sun, was the centre around which everyone gathered, and thanks to which life flourished.
Over the course of time, ornaments and details changed: eagles’ feathers and bears’ skulls were replaced with noblemen’s crests, icons of saints and portraits of ancestors. Later there came various gems and trinkets, expensive carpets, and paintings by recognised artists, informing guests of the owner’s status. Today, advertising posters, photo-wallpapers, and modern functional art prevail. Wood and coal-burning fireplaces, as well as candles and petroleum lamps replaced the bonfire, only to be superseded by electric lighting and gas heating. Trends, designers, and style gurus reign over the modern home. Homes that were once ascetic gave way to modernist, strikingly baroque or postmodernist designs.
However, despite modern equipment attesting to the unbelievable technological progress that we are witnessing – computers, surround sound systems, refrigerators, washers, air-conditioning systems – the essence of the home has remained unchanged. It is still a testimony to how we see ourselves and how we understand the world we live in. We feel intuitively that our home is more than just a set of rooms – most importantly it is our history and our memory, our loves and our work, our children and our parents, the important and insignificant events in our lives, shared meals, as well as sorrows and joys.
The universe today is not as coherent as it used to be – it seems to be divided into parts, shattered; it lacks unity and certainty. Life in today’s fast-paced world is deprived of continuity. Our identity is torn and can fall apart at any time – we are different at home, at work, and different with friends and family (if we still have the time and strength to maintain such relationships). Recently, and probably not by accident, the pertinent advertising slogan My home is where my hard drive is appeared. We are more and more withdrawn and isolated, to put simply – autistic; we are wrapped up in the worlds which exist only in our computers, where official documents sit alongside pictures from holidays, mp3 music, recorded films, e-mails…
Man at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries is a nomad, a global wanderer, an accidental tourist. He changes jobs and houses according to the rhythm of births and downfalls of great corporations. He migrates to earn his crust and to live a better life. He often lives in many homes, which more and more rarely are the image of his interior, and which begin to function as impersonal bedrooms. A rented furnished home becomes a momentary stop before the next one, while one hotel room blends into another.
The photographs of Andrzej Kramarz and Weronika Łodzińska offer an original insight into the concept of home. They create a picture that is not only peculiar but also surprisingly disturbing – as always when we peek not only into somebody’s world, but also deep into his soul, and maybe even into his innermost dreams. Astonishing in their diversity, they show traditional homes in which sacred pictures, embroidered table-linens and pyramids of down pillows abound. What is more, they show the ascetic homes of circus artists, makeshift bedrooms of truck drivers, homesteads of collectors of knick-knacks, and cells of eccentric monks. While reflecting on these photographs, it may seem that the home is so intimate, tamed and permanently present that it has become simply unnoticeable and, because of that, unknown. It is only the contact with various and contrasting incarnations of the home that gives us a glimpse of contemporaneity – its entire unarranged rich mosaic.
These visual treatises on the subject of homes are in fact portraits of a contemporary people, an attempt to capture the souls of their owners and an intriguing diagnosis of our present condition. Some of the photographs emanate calmness, while others seduce with their mystery, or evoke the absurd and grotesque. The diversity of the portrayed homes is astonishing; randomness and methodical madness can be found hiding behind furniture, while the decoration and atmosphere are simply disturbing. Looking at these photographs makes us feel like early anthropologists and ethnologists. The longer we look at them, the more our feeling of being exposed to foreign civilizations, different people and exotic planets grows. We realize that we do not have to sail to a tropical island in order to meet such exotic people as the Bushmen from the Kalahari, Eskimos from Greenland or Indians from the Amazonian.
The photographs by Weronika Łodzińska and Andrzej Kramarz seem to bring out the motifs and elements from the interiors of the homes and their inhabitants that may seem slightly peculiar, not only to the viewer but also to the owners themselves. Like a psychoanalyst treating an unsuspecting patient, they reveal hidden meanings, reinterpreting what seemed to be known, enabling us to distinguish between an absurd dream and a peculiar fantasy. In any case, any description is unnecessary and pointless – it is enough to have the pictures in front of us, letting the uncertainty grow within us regarding who we are, where we come from and where we are going… When looking at the photographs, it is worth letting sadness and melancholy take over. The pictures, viewed in a series, show a transformation and form a continuous flow which, unanchored, leads to an unknown finale.

                                                                                                                                                                   bartłomiej dobroczyński