Studio 301 & Amsterdam Photo 2002

Three Journeys
black & white photography


Zbigniew Kosc

Marek Stawski

Saturday 5 October 2002 18.00-24.00 h (opening)

Studio 301
former Filmacademie building

Overtoom 301
1054 HW Amsterdam
phone +(31-20) 779 4913

Saturday 5 October 2002 18.00 - 24.00 h (opening)
Sunday 6 October 2002 12.00 -20.00 h

Monday 7 October 2002 13.00 -17.00 h
Tuesday 8 October 2002 13.00 -17.00 h
Wednesday 9 October 2002 13.00 -17.00 h
Thursday 10 October 2002 13.00 -17.00 h


Three Journeys: Marek Stawski, Baciar, Zbigniew Kosc
by Sam Garrett at: Studio 301, Amsterdam, October 5 – 10, 2002

If the travel bug hadn’t yet sunk its teeth into the people filing into
Amsterdam’s Studio 301 last month, it certainly had by the time they’d
completed the rounds of this remarkable exhibition by three young Polish
photographers. Baciar, Kosc and Stawski, veteran Egypt travellers all,
combined forces herein early October in a rare joint show that ranged
from the plains of Memphis to the Congolese capital of Kinshasa,
and on to the former nomads of Bashkiria.

First possible point of infection was the camera obscura work of Baciar,
long rectangular photographic strips of monuments and statuary made with the
pinhole camera. A technique taken from the genesis of photography, which the
photographer himself says was selected to provide a subjective impression of
the elemental character of Egypt itself. Further along, his work done with
the modern camera provides unusual glimpses of daily life, from a woman
hanging up the wash on a Cairo rooftop to an obviously uncomfortable man
undergoing the attentions of a sidewalk barber. And startling indeed, two
dogs sleeping in the foreground of the step pyramid of Djoser, a photograph
like a tribute to the spaciousness of Egyptian horizon and sky.

"A paradise for photographers," is how Marek Stawski characterizes Egypt.
"The three of us have been there together several times. The country has
everything; hospitable people who are not shy, monuments, desert, water,
modern urban life and nomads. Working in the Congo, due in part to the
political situation there, was much more difficult."
But not due to the Congolese themselves. In Stawski’s reflective
photographs, the people of that troubled land look straight into the lens,
aware of the photographer but no longer posing, some of them radiant with
curiosity and vigour. Even the baby turning from its mother’s breast,
apparently at the sound of an earlier click of the shutter, has eyes that go
right to the viewer’s soul. A trio of boys diving in a river, two mamans
regarding the photographer with almost condescending pride: Stawski seems to
have achieved the photographer’s goal of acting as a kind of mirror, rather
than an intruder.

Last but not least, the Russian work of Zbigniew Kosc, whose colour
photographs of the Ababda tribes of Egypt and Sudan can also currently be
seen at the World Art Museum in Rotterdam, rides the thin line between
humour and tragedy. From a warm portrait of a babuschka trying to sell her
only rooster at the market in St. Petersburg (the rooster is perched atop an
empty crate of Nefertiti oranges) to a Bashkir teacher and her school choir
waiting half-hopefully on a windy and desolate plain for the arrival of the
Russian president, Kosc’s photographs are powerful documents of the places
and people he sees, at the time he sees them.

In fact, that’s the thin red line running through the work of these three
Polish photographers: they are storytellers, documentalists of space, time
and light, all a bit nostalgic, all expert at breaking down the ‘fourth wall
’ between them and what they photograph. All highly infectious carriers of
the travel bug.

And all three worth watching.