Thursday, May 21, 2009

Susan Burnstine: Between Worlds
Finding the right camera to express one’s vision is a challenge that every photographer must deal with at some point. When conventional cameras proved unsatisfactory for Susan Burnstine, however, she simply decided to build her own in order to channel the haunting, dreamlike imagery that has won her widespread critical acclaim over the past several years. The Los Angeles-based photographer utilizes an array of homemade plastic cameras in the creation of an ongoing, three-part body of work that fluctuates between various states of reality: “On Waking Dreams” (dreaming/subconscious), “Between” (sleeping/unconscious) and “Flight” (waking/conscious). Yet so confidently and elegantly is this vision realized that one is barley aware of the mediating presence of the camera. The images seem to spring straight from Burnstine’s psyche to the viewer’s.

Susan Burnstine

Which artists—photographers or otherwise—have been most important to your creative development?
As a child, I was most influenced by the Impressionists. At the age of eight, I tore pages out from books on the great Impressionists and taped their images on my bedroom walls. Monet, Seurat, Cassatt, Renoir, Degas—my room was wallpapered with their greatest works. Once I started studying photography, the first photographers who made the deepest impressions were Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Helen Levitt. In time, the Pictorialists deeply influenced my work, but it was the Impressionists that first influenced the way that I see.

Did you teach yourself the technical aspects of the medium?
Mostly. I studied photography in high school for four years. During that time I assisted a commercial/wedding/portrait photographer in Chicago. But when it comes to all the technical aspects of making homemade cameras, I’m self-taught.

How important was this period of apprenticeship?
I learned a great deal about the business of making photography. So much so that it became a detriment to my creative process much too early, as the message became that it was all about making money rather than art.

Why didn’t you go straight into a photographic career after graduating from college?
I had to take a step away, since I only aspired to make art and did not see how I could achieve that goal at that stage of my life.

Bridge to Nowhere (On Waking Dreams)

So you went down other career paths—filmmaker, performer and writer. Did any of them influence your photographic aesthetic?
Absolutely. I tend to have a more cinematic approach and try and tell a story with each image. When working with my subjects during the series “Between,” I’d frequently walk them through basic acting exercises and mediations in attempt to put them in the moment and give them room to get in touch with where they really were, rather than trying to direct them in a way that I thought served the image.

What prompted your return to photography?
After a series of events, starting with my mother’s death and dealing with an illness of my own, the illusions of living and working in Hollywood lost their appeal. I was burned out and wanted to do something that really meant something to me. I hadn’t seriously photographed anything in years, but always held onto my first real camera, a Canon A-1 my parents gave me when I was eleven. I started photographing my best friend’s children all the time. My friend liked nearly everything I shot and told everyone she knew to hire me as a photographer. Within a year, I had a headshot, portrait and occasion photography business. It was satisfying for a short time, but once again, those old demons came crawling back and the business of photography soured me. It was then that I started getting an overwhelming itch to create art.

Are there any points of connection between your commercial and fine art work?
Not really. One pays the bills and the other feeds my soul.

Suspend (Between)

Why did you start building homemade cameras?
I wanted to recreate how I see the world through my eyes in an authentic manner. Conventional, prefabricated cameras simply could not emulate my vision. Additionally, I wanted an original style or fingerprint that could not be found with standard cameras. For many months, I focused on toy camera photography due to its dreamy, Pictorialist style. But the look and style soon became repetitive, and I became bored by their limitations. I began tearing these cameras apart piece-by-piece, modifying them to photograph close-ups, telephoto, etc. Then I started rebuilding them from the inside out. This process taught me how to create a rudimentary camera, and I subsequently made my own box cameras and my own homemade lenses out of random household objects, molded plastic and rubber.

How have the imperfections of these cameras helped to define your style?
The cameras have only one or two shutter speeds and one aperture, and they frequently break, since they’re mostly held together by Duco cement, photo tape and glue. Having to work around these limitations has forced me to learn how to harness light in a way that I would not have learned with a conventional camera. It’s also taught me more about all aspects of photography than anything else.

Many photographers have jumped onto the plastic/toy camera bandwagon in recent years. How does your imagery differ?
My images are not from conventional, prefabricated toy cameras. I make my own cameras and lenses so that they have a one-of-a-kind look and style that toy cameras cannot achieve.

You’ve written that you suffered from childhood nightmares that led you to equate sleep with mortality. Can you expand on that as it relates to your artistic vision?
As a child, I suffered from severe nightmares that frequently stayed with me for days. Often I would see an image or symbol in my waking life but would not know if it was something real or from my dreams. Over the years, I’ve found that there can be a very thin line between dreams and reality, and so I made a deliberate choice to convey that line between black and white, yin and yang, and the conscious and unconscious worlds.

In Passage (On Waking Dreams)

The idea of photographing one's dreams is fascinating, and brings to mind the Surrealists, especially filmmakers like Luis Buñuel. However, the original Surrealist artists privileged the philosophical content of their work above its form. Your work seems more evenly balanced between the two. Any comment?
Besides the subject of dream content, I don’t see my work as having much to do with the Surrealist filmmaking movement. Buñuel’s take on surrealism was often based in the irrational. My images have a rational interpretation and are based more on Jungian dream interpretation than the Surrealist movement.

Surrealism was also above all else a revolutionary movement, though that aspect has been largely forgotten today. Do you see your work at all in this light? I ask because photography is rooted in the temporal, but your images superimpose a metaphysical layer onto that. Is part of your approach rooted in a concern or predilection for conceptual subversion?
There is a rich metaphysical layer to the work, although that’s a tough subject to discuss. But its inclusion is both conscious and unconscious. If you’re asking if I intentionally keep a distance from conceptual thought, the answer is essentially yes. It’s my hope that my work can be experienced in a primal, emotional manner prior to intellect and conceptual thought setting in.

Is your use of dreamlike imagery also a way of achieving a kind of spiritual or emotional liberation?
Yes, absolutely.

Run (Flight)

The mood in your images is always ambiguous; do you consciously try to keep the tone from becoming too dark?
Yes … and no. The content of the image always dictates the tone. I never outwardly or consciously direct what comes out from a subject or event. I can only react to what I see through my own eyes by clicking the shutter at a time that speaks to me. It’s my way in life and in art to always find the balance of positive and negative in everything. I suspect that’s why the images never become overly dark, when they very well could. The interpretation tends to be left open, because in essence that’s who I am and how I try and see the world around me.

The figures in your “On Waking Dreams” series are seen mainly in silhouette and at a distance, lending them more of a symbolic than individual presence.
Your interpretation is correct. The silhouette is about solitude, the struggle of being alone in the conscious and unconscious human condition and the inward and outward struggle of either going forward or back. Additionally, the figures represent the archetypal images I have been haunted by in my dreams for years—many of which are silhouette figures.

You often place these figures in corridor-like settings: staircases, bridges, roads and the like. This gives them a feeling of being in transit, whether physical or spiritual. Frequently, they’re moving towards or away from an area of light, which seems to imply transcendence or rebirth.
Absolutely. My work is often about the question, choice, and/or decision to move forward or back in the physical and spiritual realm.

You speak about your work in terms of metaphors, but your imagery isn’t didactic in the sense that you try to impose a particular interpretation. How important is it to accord viewers this kind of freedom, and are you surprised at some of the things people read into your photographs?
I find this essential to making an image. I don’t want to impose my personal interpretations on each picture to the point that it’s the only possible perspective, for fear that viewers cannot have their own experiences. I very much enjoy hearing people’s reactions, as they can be vastly different from my own. Many have jokingly said that my images are a type of Rorschach test, especially within the series “Between.”

Grasp (Between)

There’s a more direct engagement with people as individuals in the “Between” series. Although our view of them is still obscured by blur, silhouetting, textures, etc., we are invited to identify with them on a more emotional level. What triggered this difference in approach?
“Between” is a very personal series for me. I photographed subjects, but in essence it is a self-portrait about a very difficult subject and time in my life. The work is all based in emotions that can be interpreted as positive or negative depending on individual perspectives. The previous series, “On Waking Dreams,” was based on my own conscious and unconscious world, but it frequently applied to mass consciousness of dreams and metaphors. In other words, one series is about looking at the world from the outside in, while the other is about looking at the world from the inside out. What triggered the difference? Dealing with the tragic loss of my mother, the overwhelming fallout of 9-11 and facing my own mortality due to a health concern. Additionally, I do not like repeating the same content from series to series. Each has to pose different psychological and/or technical challenges, or else there is no reason for shooting another.

You’ve described “Between” as evoking the space and time that exists between living and dying. What other themes or ideas are you trying to express through it?
I am one that never sees anything as simple as black and white. I believe that what is most important is what lies between the two. One might say the series is about living within shades of gray.

Do you worry about exhausting the creative possibilities of a soft-focus, blurry aesthetic? Can you foresee experimenting with sharper-edged imagery in future?
I think it’s natural for an artist not to want to become a parody of themselves. I will continue working with homemade cameras for as long as they continue to allow me to expand and grow as a person and artist. I know many viewers prefer to easily identify an artist by a certain style, and that has been a concern, but I don’t like to put limitations on the tools I use. What’s most important is the content and finding the correct tool to convey what I’m trying to say. My first love was documentary photography. Who knows, I might do a 180-degree turn to conventional lenses sometime.

Threshold (Flight)

Do you find much visual inspiration in Los Angeles, or is it hard to find the kind of images you want?
I prefer nondescript, vast, timeless locations, so Los Angeles proper poses a serious challenge. This last series was not dependent on visual surroundings—part of the reason for this shift was because I got to a point with the previous series that I had shot much of what I found evocative about the city. My feelings about visual inspiration in Los Angeles go in ebbs and flows. Currently, I am mildly uninspired by my surroundings, but I suspect that has to do with being in a transition from one series to another and trying to define exactly what I want to say more than the city and atmosphere that surrounds me.

Is the light in Los Angeles difficult to work with?
The light can be tricky since it’s so brilliant and harsh most days. I prefer to shoot in the shade or a cloudy atmosphere, but those days are few and far between in Los Angeles, even in winter. But there can be exceptions. The series “Between” was shot during May to November 2007, and part of my challenge was shooting during the harshest sunlight of the year.

Many of your photographs border on abstraction, but for the most part your subject matter is rooted in the representational.
I don’t like to put limits on directions and subject matter for future work. The emotional content determines the direction for each individual image. It’s hard to say where that will lead me with the next series, since I like to work without predetermined limitations or expectations.

(I wrote about Susan Burnstine for the September 2008 issue of B&W. To embark on further explorations of her otherworldly imagery, please visit

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Marc Ullom: Time and Transformation
At the heart of Marc Ullom’s photographic odyssey is a fascination with how we negotiate our sense of self through our bodies and our environment, a process that unfolds on both the conscious and unconscious levels. This dynamic is most powerfully evoked in his “Transience of Self” series, comprised of elegant and ominous self-portraits taken in derelict buildings in advanced states of decay. Ullom’s photographs raise challenging questions about who and what and why we are. Answers are optional.

Marc Ullom

How did you become interested in photography?
I first picked up a camera when I was about three years old, turned it around, looked down the lens and took my first self-portrait. I still have that photograph. It wasn’t until the “Transience of Self” series that I began shooting self-portraits seriously, however. In 1985 I became interested in photography as a hobby, and soon thereafter I was able to purchase my first SLR, a Canon EOS 650. It was with me all the way through high school, and the experience led me to consider pursuing photography as a major in college. In short, it was a series of disjointed experiences that built upon my love of creating crystalline moments out of time. Besides, I couldn’t stand the idea of a normal desk job.

What specific aspects of photography make it your preferred medium? In other words, how does it allow you to communicate themes and ideas in ways that painting or sculpture, for example, are unable to?
In the beginning, I was simply fascinated with the idea of capturing things—of seeing in new ways and of framing the world, boxing it up, taking a piece of it and putting my mark upon it. I didn’t know that at first, but I did know my interest in photography and of looking at photographs was not a fleeting one. In college, I was obsessed with the darkroom, printing hundreds of images each semester, performing endless toning experiments, and shooting my own work in addition to class work. One day I realized that creating images didn’t feel like work—it felt like the greatest fulfillment of what I was meant to do. That sounds dramatic, but it’s true. In dealing with the more traditional methods of self expression, I always felt stifled, like my hand could not fulfill what my mind’s eye desired. And so, with little innate talent in the traditional fine arts, I was happy to stick with photography and became fully immersed in the challenge of making the little box work like I wanted it to.

You’ve written that you cannot make a photographic image from memory, as you can with painting or sculpture. Yet doesn’t photography lend itself to suggesting memory more effectively than either of those mediums?
I don’t know if it lends itself more readily to suggesting memory, but I know that what photography has always done is control time. Yes, it records, reduces and separates small slices of time from the fluid experience of existence, but we tend to associate those two-dimensional representations as a fact of place or time. With that being said, I realize that writers and critics can argue it either way. My use of photography in the past was linked to objects, places and structures, but over the past five years or so it has evolved to dealing with the emotional connection of being in the places I photograph, whether it’s a landscape or self-portrait. It’s an important distinction. My work has taken a fundamental turn: It has moved from what the camera does so easily, recording the fact of a place in a beautiful way, to working in conjunction with my ideas, my emotional connections, and most importantly, my state of mind to create work that is intended to be something more than the individual parts.

Exploration #94

Has your environment influenced your work? I sense a certain fascination with decay, which often seems to be the case with photographers from the Midwest and eastern regions of the country.
I believe that environment always influences the work an artist produces. I grew up on the East Coast, and spent much of my time in the country exploring old houses and other uninhabited places. You are correct that I have a fascination with spaces that have lived beyond their useful life and are being reclaimed by nature. I have not identified where that fascination comes from, but I do know that when I am fascinated with something, my interest sometimes fades when I figure out why.

What was the catalyst for the "Transience of Self" series?
This two-year project started innocently enough with a single thought: “How does the camera see my physical form compared to how I think I look?” It rapidly evolved into a more well-rounded group of ideas that coalesced into an exploration of how our physical bodies interact with our environment, and how they change with the environment. There are many layers to how the project can be viewed, but the basic inspiration was simply wondering why I looked like I do. The initial title of the work was “Looking Out, Looking In.”

How closely, in your view, is our relationship with our environment bound up with our sense of self?
How we see ourselves is a complex blending of our childhood environments, the places we spent time around as adolescents, and those places we choose to live in as adults. These externally experiential surroundings subtly mold how we identify with our inner sense of self. The work I have created in “Transience of Self” explores both man-made and natural environments with an injection of a human form in both. The spirit of the two environments is profoundly different and intended to draw a strong response from the viewer. How all of this ends up influencing my sense of self is at once subtle and profound.

Exploration #73

Is there much of your childhood represented in the Transience imagery?
No intentionally, but I’ve always had a love of the mysterious and unknown, so a literal exploration of these spaces is tied to that interest.

Conversely, are you trying to connect somehow with your future?
I think that by coming to terms with the physical changes to my body over the course of this project I was also attempting to come to terms with my future. This acceptance of the way things are, and will be, occurred largely outside the process of making the work, mainly by thinking through the process. I realize this group of photographs will engage each viewer differently, but for me the experience helped me to feel more connected with and at the same time detached from my body.

I sense a kinship with Ralph Eugene Meatyard, to some extent visually, but primarily through a kind of secular spiritual and emotional tonality.
It’s interesting that you mention this. Arno Rafael Minkkinen, one of my mentors on the project, said some of my images reminded him of Meatyard, and it’s also interesting that I fail to see it. This is something that I am going to be looking into, as it is possible that I am merely not that familiar with Meatyard, even though I have seen quite a bit of his work. Clearly, research is needed.

The work is beautifully ambiguous and obviously lends itself to a wide range of interpretation. In your bio, you state that it involves “an observation of the transient nature of our physical form in relation to our environment.” Are you basically saying that our interpretation of self, as well as our interpretation of our environment and how the two interact, is in constant flux?
The interaction we have with our environment and with our physical form does change over time. I wrote at one point about this project being a flag planted in the river of time, a testament to those who see it in 50 years. I will be interested to see how I view the work in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, to see if it’s the keystone of my understanding of self, or if it’s merely a single block in my experience. Work can become more powerful to the photographer as time moves on, or it may lose its luster. I’m interested to see how it pans out.

Exploration #06

The interiors in which you photograph exhibit an advanced state of physical decay, which is a form of transition. Beyond providing a visual echo of the body’s physical transformation through time, are you suggesting other correlatives between our bodies and our immediate environments?
You have touched on the main intent in how the environment and the physical body interact.

Would you care to comment on some of the other narrative motifs, such as the link between past and present consciousness; or the personal journey through time and space?
The more I worked on this project, the more I became aware that the essence of who we are is so much more than our physical bodies. Maybe this isn’t news to anyone else, but it was a profound revelation to me. It was this realization that allowed me to become much more accepting of the current and future state of the body. It helped me to find my center as well. I don’t feel like I’m drifting anymore, but more like I’m anchored in an understanding of the nature of where our identity lies, and it is not, at least for me, in our physical bodies.

Your work is intended to raise questions for yourself and viewers alike about the temporal nature of existence, but without necessarily providing answers. Is it enough to just raise questions? Do you experience any frustration at not finding answers?
I definitely believe it is enough to simply ask questions. The question is the most important thing. Answers will change, and many are relative, but the question is the thing that engages the mind and creates an insatiable curiosity that leads to personal insight and understanding. I have found some answers, but those answers are mine alone. Imposing my view on the work may cheapen it for others, so it’s my intention to simply to allow the work to speak for itself, while also provide a loose starting point for interpreting the work.

Exploration #87

Did you shoot everything in a single or multiple locations? The consistency of detail and texture seems to suggest the former.
Actually, the work was created in several states and approximately four different buildings. The exterior images were photographed in New Mexico, Colorado and Utah, while the interior images were taken in Michigan and West Virginia. Thousands of miles and hundreds of hours were poured into this project. My exploration of the unknown and mysterious was a significant factor in the choice of locations.

The physical atmosphere in these photographs is somewhat ominous, like a setting in a Harold Pinter play. Also like Pinter, I think they communicate as much by what they hide as by what they reveal. Is this intentional?
Ominous is a strong word, but a legitimate one. Yes, the hinted-at environment, or the things I left out, is quite intentional and helps add to the mystery.

The figure’s nudity lends these images a provocative aspect, but it also seems to imply vulnerability.
My mentors on the series strongly suggested that I should be nude in the work. I resisted this initially, and wore shorts, but the clothing created too much cultural context, so the nude body became a necessary step to remove the last shred of separation between body and environment. It’s not intended to be provocative, but vulnerability, intimacy, raw exposure, these descriptors work better. Nevertheless, I understand that some people cannot get away from the fact that there is a nude body in the photograph.

This may be a reach, but are you also trying to convey any kind of subtext equating decay and death or sexuality?
Not at all.

Exploration #20

By imaging yourself in terms of shadows, blurs, reflections and fragments, you seem to evoke instability on a number of levels: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
Mostly the instability of our physical form, and an exploration of the body in a constant state of flux. I can see how people may see these images as morbid or depressing, but that’s not my intent. There is a spiritual connection, as this project challenged me to carefully review my own conservative Christian upbringing, and in the end I think I understand where I came from and who I am better now because of these challenges. There is a strong connection in the work to the idea of memory and the idea that we really live in our memory, that every moment instantly becomes memory—so the mental instability you speak of can be seen as simply the constant change within our brains as we move through time and absorb our environments and experiences.

How spontaneous are these images? Are they pre-planned to any degree, or do you find yourself reacting to the physical environment at the moment of image capture?
Towards the end of the project the creation of the work was fairly spontaneous, mainly because I took so many images over the two years that the technical considerations became second nature. Self-portraiture of this nature is not easy if technique is lacking. Working in dangerous buildings without clothing requires a fair degree of methodical planning, but over time the process became more spontaneous. The post-production phase was more contemplative, in that I modified the environments through burning and dodging.

I like the tension between the images’ visual simplicity and thematic complexity, something I see in your other series as well. Do you have to think much about this balance, or does it emerge organically?
The visual balance in the work evolved organically because of my lifelong love of balance and structure in the photographic image. These visual characteristics are an innate part of who I am as a visual artist.

Have you achieved all you set out to do with this series?
I feel that I have closed the chapter on this particular body of work. I may return to it in the future, but for now I’m content to move on to another genre.

(Marc Ullom is a professional photographer and educator currently based in Michigan. A radically abridged version of this interview appeared in the June 2009 issue of B&W magazine. For more on Marc’s work, visit

Monday, May 4, 2009

Krzysztof Pruszkowski: Photographing What Doesn’t Exist
Initially trained as an architect, Polish-born Krzysztof Pruszkowski took up photography after moving to Paris in 1965. He did fashion, publicity and documentary work for several years before feeling the constraints of what he perceived as the expressive limitations of single images. He subsequently devised a method of extreme multiple-image creation beginning in 1975 called Photosynthesis. Inspired in part by Jacques Derrida’s concept of drawing numerous interpretations from a single text, the dense visual layering of Pruszkowski’s images is mirrored by their kaleidoscopic allusions to all manner of philosophical, cultural, sexual and political issues. His recent projects include a look at media representations of terrorists and their victims, as well as a series focused on myths of the 20th century.

Krzysztof Pruszkowski

Poland has a rich history of experimental and politically engaged photography. Although you had moved to Paris at 22, do you feel that Photosynthesis is linked to this tradition, if only in spirit?
No. I created the “total vision” concept of Photosynthesis in opposition to the dogmatic concept of the “decisive moment” formed in the middle of the 20th century by Henri Cartier-Bresson. That aesthetic became the “canon obligatoire” in photography, and it also became a nice product for the export of French culture and lifestyle. The paradoxical fact is that the exceptional quality of Cartier-Bresson’s reportage, and the quality of documentary photography in France in general, brought photography to a standstill—like painting in the 19th century—and inhibited French photographers from developing a modern vision.

Leaving aside Cartier-Bresson, have you been influenced or inspired by any other photographers?
I’m very impressed with how Julia Margaret Cameron approached the “essence” of photographic truth, and found a psychological dimension in her portraits. I appreciate the work of Baron de Meyer for the transparency of his light, especially in his nudes. I’m fascinated by the maximalist perspective that informed Bill Brandt’s creativity—using extreme wide-angle lenses for his nudes and portraits—and by his moral conscience in making politically engaged photographic documentation of English workers. And at the beginning of the 20th century the famous Polish writer and painter S.I. Witkiewicz created an amazing series of auto-portraits and portraits of his girlfriends, which, with evident will, discard the distance between photographer and model.

Sevilla, Spain

How did you develop the idea for the Photosynthesis process?
When I worked in fashion photography I soon realized that clients and modeling agencies selected only certain kinds of female models. In order to understand their selection principles, I began to make composite portraits of models with different physiques. That inspired me to apply this composite approach not only to portraits, but all kinds of subject matter, thereby creating visual “prototypes” for a photographic dictionary of a new visual language. Then I began to create materializations of ideas rather than objects or events.

Were single images not expressive enough for you?
Single images are boring. We can learn from those images nothing more than what we are able to see directly. They are dead. In contrast, Photosynthesis emits fabulous energy arising from the tensions that exist between different forms concentrated deep in the photographic surface of the image.

Is the layering done in camera or in the darkroom?
The miracle of image creation that Photosynthesis represents is performed inside the camera, where it is possible to easily composite countless space-time situations. I have built more than 200 special cameras with instant developing capabilities for this purpose, including an 8x10 Polaroid reflex camera. As a tribute to the ingenious inventor of Polaroid they are named Prusland cameras.

What does this layering represent to you?
It is something very special. I take photos of things that have never existed, do not exist, and will never exist. It is not the result of my imagination or someone else’s imagination. The final form of the image is not even the result of my initial intention. The form of these photographs is always “negotiated.”

15 Miradors, Madjanek, Poland

What exactly are you trying to communicate through these densely layered “negotiations?”
I want to share my experience with others. I create on photographic paper a virtual diagram resulting from the interplay of forces and energies existing between the forms and myself during the Photosynthesis experience.

The layering seems to be a way to undermine overused visual tropes so as to force viewers to look beyond the physical surface of your subject matter.
Absolutely. The process of penetrating into the surface of a photograph in order to see and understand something deeper is fundamental. My goal is for viewers to pass into the other side of the mirror like Alice in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.” I want them to lose themselves and penetrate the subconscious, in the process becoming a little freer in their way of looking at and thinking about the world around them. But on the other hand, the image deconstruction that Photosynthesis creates is very open-ended. In every instant the viewer retains the possibility of coming back, of leaving the surface of the paper and detaching from the generic image.

Is the visual disorientation in the images meant to evoke the instability of modern life?
Yes, but it also concerns the difficulty of communicating the possibility of a complex situation existing in time, space and mind.

Ramses II, Luxor, Egypt

Many of these images draw on your architectural background to reference how ancient and modern structures have been used as an assertion of autocratic authority.
Yes. The image “15 Miradors,” of the Majdanek German concentration and extermination camp near Lublin, Poland, is a study about typology, the architecture of power, and the philosophy of domination. The image of the statue of Ramses II standing between stone columns is a similar expression of absolute rule.

Is it important that your work always have a strong social and/or political component?
I don’t care what is currently “important.” I work by intuition regarding problems that I am concerned about. I try to take pictures of existing things. If I express myself through art, it has to be strong. In fact, everything in life is social and political.

(Images kindly furnished by I Photo Central, on online photo gallery and collecting resource that represents Krzysztof Pruszkowki’s work. Contact: