Agnieszka Kozlowska – England

Agnieszka is an artist and researcher whose practice is concerned with the potential of experimental photographic processes and the resulting photographic artefacts to communicate complex and embodied experience of natural environments. Remote areas, particularly mountains, are central to her work, as is their exploration through long hiking tours and through physical engagement with particular locations in the process of making the pieces on-site using largely natural found materials. At Stiwdio Maelor Agnieszka will be investigating two previously unused photographic processes that she has began researching earlier this year. Firstly, Agnieszka is exploring the possibility of obtaining a relief in a metal plate exposed directly in-camera. Secondly, she is planning to examine the potential of natural pigments to form a photographic image directly in-camera when mixed with a light sensitive chemical; natural materials characteristic for the area, such as slate sourced locally or paper made out of local plants, would be utilized as a substrate. For each piece, she will make a camera on-site out of available natural materials, for example by digging a hole in the ground.

Welsh landscape with its industrial heritage is an ideal subject of this work. Agnieszka interested in the change of paradigms from the objectifying perspective of the world as a resource, to be controlled and exploited, to an understanding of man as not separate from nature but embedded in it. The former view is very clearly embodied in practices of mining, but also in conventional photographic technology, to which the world is a resource of images ready to be captured anytime, anywhere, at a click of a button. Through an experimental approach that sees photography as essentially a natural phenomenon taking place independently of human intervention, she aims to subvert this paradigm. Moreover, understood as objects and not as ‘immaterial’ images, such photographs do not seek to reduce reality by mediating its direct perception with pictorial representation (which conventionally results in photographs themselves withdrawing from the world in the sense of appearing to lack material presence). Rather, they seek to participate in the represented world through a process that is open to chance occurrences and to physical contact between the light-sensitive materials and the environment. Subsequently, they invite an analogous participation of the viewer, in the form of an embodied and intuitive response to objects that both originate in the represented site and have been affected by light reflected off the landscape in the course of photographic exposure, thus gaining an additional intangible connection to it.

More about my practice

Agnieszka is driven by a fascination with the moment of photographic exposure, when a tangible link is formed between the light-sensitive surface and the physical world. Agnieszka investigates the potential of photographs to communicate meaning as physical traces rather than purely as images. In particular, she is concerned with the possibility of conveying a complex, multi-sensory and embodied experience of remote natural environments through a photograph as a unique auratic object affected by rays of light reflected off the scene in front on the lens. This is examined through production and exhibition of photographic work, focusing on experimental use of processes and techniques whereby the object exposed onto is the very same object that is encountered by the viewer, or enjoys a particularly close connection with it. The choice of materials and equipment is dictated by the environment being represented, and prioritizes direct physical engagement with it in the process of making the work. The recent doctoral project entitled ‘Taking Photographs Beyond the Visual: Paper as a Material Signifier in Photographic Indexicality’ involved making paper on-site out of grass in remote alpine locations and constructing cameras there by digging holes in the ground.

The resulting photographs seek to signify not only as conventionalized signs (images), functioning in a sphere of meanings that are exclusively human, but also to represent the more-than-human, sensuous dimensions of our interaction with the physical environment. As objects, they do so by evoking a response that engages viewer’s embodied perception, imagination and conceptual understanding. Through the deliberately slow and labour- intensive manner of producing work (fashioning pieces out of available natural materials entirely on-location, extremely long photographic exposures, walking over long distances in remote environments) Agnieszka investigate how technology mediates our interaction with the world. Conventionally, a photographic camera (similarly to pictorial representation itself) positions the human observer as separate from the observed reality, which is taken as its object of manipulation and control. Through such subversive use of the medium as takes place in my work, where human agency is one among many forces influencing the outcome and the formation of an image is constantly at stake, the dualistic notion of man transcending the physical world can begin to be eroded and replaced by a holistic and systemic paradigm of human participation in a universe that is dynamic, creative and alive.AKozlowska-image7