Andrzej Kramarz

Andrzej Kramarz “THINGS”

The Sunday market in Kraków's Grzegórzki district, where photos of objects were taken over a period of two years, are a metaphor for community. Such items of “wonderful junk” are all treated equally here. It is true, the fact people come here on a weekend means that things become objects of ritual and cultural games: an unhurried poke around, rummage, comparing of prices, and a touch of haggling comprised in an atmosphere of relaxation and amusement, as if time was brought to a standstill.     

Andrzej Kramarz “THINGS”4This collection of photographs leads to the thought that this Sunday ritual contains something from a remade world - the search for objects and hoarding them around ourselves. It is a place of intimate meetings and personal fetish. It is to these "deposits" where the faithful bookworm returns, or the collector of photographs yellowed with age, the owner of the antique store and every other poacher, on the search for things, seemingly devoid of value, yet which form an unconscious search for elements of our own memory: a memory which is of the individual, upon which our small myths are built, just as those which are embraced by the collective. It is this which connects us to our predecessors.     

The images set off an auto-narrative. They illustrate the continuum of Me in things - in old bric-a-brac, and in new objects which may share a similar fate and end up in attics, cellars and flea markets. They yearn to be saved. Domesticated. First, however, they have to be held, checked for any rust, dust and mould, also on the other side, inside and on the bottom, all of which are hidden due to photography's lack of the third dimension: it's flatness. Thus a simple glance is not enough. 

And so we “touch the essence of the matter”. These photographs lead to the assumption, that the bond between humans and objects is of a purely symbiotic character. We make material objects, we exchange them, we use them everyday, but they too influence our way of life, they give evidence to our role and social status, our membership of a cultural circle. It is these objects in which our history is written. In a word - things make us humane. It is written in our human primeval code; after all someone went to the lengths to create. 

However, apart from human history, things also take with them the baggage of a cultural memory of space. In this respect a small market squeezed in between the Hala Targowa bazaar and a railway embankment becomes a veritable “semiotic square”. Within its border lie an amassment of strange objects. It is a “cosmos of great things”, and we merely find ourselves in one of its many galaxies. 

None of the objects sold here are branded as being “inferior”. Quite the opposite, every thing has an equal right to belong to someone. It just has to be found. Fished out. This bazaar does not know the “semantics of the margin, paragraph or space” which are so characteristic of a store's shelves: exposed objects neatly lined up at eye-level, exclusive products from the top shelf, or those (as if in embarrassment) stuffed into the recesses of the bottom shelf. Here there are no objects which cannot be juxtaposed by others. The photographs reveal the relations which are in this way bound between the objects. Hence we find a surreal or indeed fashioned army of toy soldiers with an iconic image of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane; an album of Pope John Paul II lying next to a DVD of “Letters from a Killer” and a “Twin Cheeks” porno; a machete lying by a bust of Hitler. All these things provoke us into the conjuring up of enigmatic histories and lead us to the imaginary ties, which although having a presumed character, paradoxically allow us to discover the real nature of things. 

In photographing objects sold at a flea market, I am simultaneously performing an act of nobilitation for poorer items. Of course, the first composer here is reality itself, at most I am just helping reveal its hidden aspects. Thanks to this disclosure of needless remnants, they regain an aesthetic and social meaning and as such this so-called cultural junkyard becomes a telling metaphor for the human world.