Ula Wiznerowicz, the 25-year old Polish photographer who was recently a finalist in the Channel 4 and Saatchi Gallery’s New Sensations 2010 prize, is to launch her first UK solo exhibition in London later this year.
Behind the Curtain will feature at the Polish Social and Cultural Association’s gallery during November, following on from its premiere at the Kunstraum Café Mitterhofer in Innichen, Italy, where it received international acclaim.
The body of work explores the problem of alcoholism in rural communities in Greater Poland, through high quality photography taken with an analogue medium-format camera. While the subject matter may be serious, the result is a compelling series of highly individual minimalistic images conveying strong but simple messages in very distinctive ways. The set of 30 50x40cm prints represents a personal journey through the individual stories of the men and women dealing with alcoholism; forgotten and useless things covered in dust, emaciated cats running around in search for food leftovers, rooms taken over by spider webs and strong odour of alcohol. This was just some of chaos that Ula encountered while photographing in her native village Palmowo and the surrounding areas. In her visual narratives Ula reflects this, as well as dwells on the personal story of her own past, growing up in Poland.
“The aim of the exhibition is to turn the viewer’s attention to inseparable feeling of loneliness and alienation experienced by alcoholics and their families,” says Ula. “But the pastel colour palette found in many of the photographs is intended to convey the sense of hope or peace, as there are a large number of institutions that support the addicts, helping them to overcome the struggle with their illness and giving optimism for a better future.”
Over the course of a year, Ula gathered relevant information, researched medical data and interviewed alcoholics, their families and doctors who specialise in the addiction. “I believe this was essential, as without doing so, I would have been unable to fully understand the problem that plays a major role in my home country, and suitably express this issue in my work,” she says.
Ula’s photography has already benefitted those battling alcoholism. In March this year, she donated a two-metre long artwork from the series to a charity auction organised in support of the London-based Seventy4 Foundation that deals with alcohol addiction.
Following her graduation from a BA course in Photography at Middlesex University in 2010, Ula was awarded a prestigious prize at the D&AD New Blood 2010 exhibition showcasing selected work from UK graduates. Shortly after, she was chosen as one of the four finalists for the Channel 4 and Saatchi Gallery New Sensations 2010 Prize. A short documentary film about each of the selected artists was made and aired by Channel 4. This can be viewed online at http://jamesmh.net/697792/Ula-Wiznerowicz
Through photography, Ula seeks to document her own personal experiences, trying to capture her vision of reality at the moment the shutter gets released. Her images portray authentic locations, telling the stories of the people who live there. The pictures come alive in light, the story reaching the spectator beyond material reality. Ula seeks to explore the poetry of commonplace, capturing the ordinary things from her unique point of view. She chooses visual art as a powerful tool to express her emotions, thus telling a much more complex story than just words can do.