Pictura Gallery

Anatomy of Loss | Galina Kurlat + Sylwia Kowalczyk

April 5, 2021

Sil Gal FB Event

Anatomy of Loss brings together two photographers who work with non-traditional portraiture. Both artists manipulate the surfaces of their prints to explore degeneration and loss over time. In her project, Lethe, Sylwia Kowalczyk tackles the forfeiture of memory. In Soft Bodies, Galina Kurlat addresses a more physical kind of breakdown.

Kowalczyk’s fragmented figures are torn, layered, and rephotographed. She approaches memory as a layered thing, peeling off in bits and pieces. Slowly, the fragments are discarded and rearranged until a different version has formed. Each piece in Lethe is a unique offering of an idea — that of watching memory take its leave. An icy blue print shows a woman facing in on herself. A person in yellow appears in varying levels of focus, like a friend who becomes more distant by degrees over time. Another print shows a silver haired figure from behind; the chest has been hollowed out, and clouds fill the void. The figure exists but is gradually going to mist, perhaps losing access to their own mind or memory.

While Kowalczyk’s work explores the erasure of what’s in the mind, Kurlat’s work looks at the erosion of surfaces and the physical body. In Soft Bodies, one could imagine that the arc of a being’s physical existence in the world is being charted, from its entry to its exit. In one of Kurlat’s more abstract images, a glowing form resembles an embryo suspended in celestial dust. In her more figurative pieces, the women appear to be disintegrating back into the very same substance.

Kurtlat embraces the uncontrollable and unpredictable effects of the unfixed chemicals on the surface of her prints. She allows the process to do some of the work, and the neutral tools of time, dust, and chemistry are surprisingly good at making meaning. Sometimes, the aging process summons a new and enigmatic depth to the surface of the polaroids. Other times, the organic deterioration of the print feels like a dark unraveling of the form. As ephemeral as they are, Kurlat’s images suggest the presence of something beyond the body. Though the corporeal form wears away, what remains is not the blank void of nothingness. Instead, the distressed surfaces reveal some other glowing, amorphous presence- perhaps the trace of the soul.


- Mia + Lisa

View the entire exhibit here

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