Pictura Gallery

Michal Solarski & Tomasz Liboska

Cut It Short

The title ‘Cut it Short’ refers to the old tradition in Slavic cultures called ‘Postrzyzyny’. Young boys have their hair cut in order for them to enter society, a ‘coming of age’ of sorts. The custom is still being practiced in some circles as a kind of symbol of obeying the rules.

It is difficult to recreate a feeling. Memory, however, is often most strongly recalled by its feelings. It’s common to reach for a hazy aesthetic to portray memory in a photographic project. Not so with Cut it Short. Solarski and Liboska have sharply drawn the acuteness of teenage angst and awakening by picturing their memories in very precise detail.

Teenagers often do things in groups that they might be afraid to do on their own- traveling with a friend by train and exploring the winter woods, getting into a fight, sometimes even sexual encounters. The bond of this shared experience, this first tasting of the world that happens together, creates a specific intensity that we don’t always feel in later in life. Cut it Short pulls one back inside the teenage emotional landscape through the eyes of two rebellious Polish boys.

We come from a little town of about four thousand people, on the southern edge of Poland. This is the place where twenty years ago, we were both coming of age. It was nothing unusual, growing up is a process that everyone goes through.

We left our hair long like most grunge kids; we wanted to be playboys. Then we cut our hair short; we became vegetarians. It felt like a big deal. In those days, in a place like our town, you were risking public outcry for openly rejecting meat. We wanted to be revolutionary. All that counted was our friendship and our dreams, listening to new cd’s and drinking cheap wine. We planned to become rockstars. But losing our virginity was the priority, it was even more important than a stage career. We were confused and self-possessed. We had some kind of liberty fueled by some kind of verve, and then, fairly abruptly, we separated off on different paths and grew up.

Having aged, we yearn for something from our coming-of-age, and we’re searching for the strength of the feelings we once shared. Today we return to Poland with Dominik and Marek (who are now roughly the same age we were at the time.) With their help, we are trying to reconstruct past events of our lives. We are playing the scenes, one by one, trying to remember every possible detail, each gesture, each word, but still we have to improvise. Many of the places we used to know, either don’t exist anymore or have changed completely.

Michal Solarski | Artist Bio

After graduating in Poland with a Masters in Politics, Solarski moved to London and studied at The London College of Communication where he earned an additional masters in Documentary Photography. Solarski’s work has been widely exhibited and published in many publications including The Guardian, GEO, TIME, GQ, Vanity Fair among others. He divides his professional career between advertising and his personal projects, traveling extensively between the UK and Eastern Europe where he produces the majority of his work. Most of his photography is strongly based on his own background and experiences, with a concentration on migration and memories.

Tomasz Liboska | Artist Bio

Tomasz Liboska (1976) lives in Chorzow in Upper-Silesia, Poland. He graduated from Silesian University in Cieszyn, Poland, in Anthropology of Culture, and from the Institute for Creative Photography in Opava, Czech Republic. Liboska has been working on projects in Silesia for over 10 years. His photographs have been published in Newsweek, Polityka, VICE, and presented in exhibitions for Photomonth Krakow, the Hereford Photography Festival, and the New York Photo Festival. Liboska collaborates with Michal Solarski to form a project about their shared youth, Cut it Short.

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