The Owls Are Not What They Seem
Pawel Dudziak is a minimalist explorer. In his cycle of ten-odd black-and-white photographs, he appears to have opted for a monogamous relationship. A relationship with a prime lens compact camera – one focal length and one length only. Dudziak squares the choice by redoubling photographic images. Except that his doublets have nothing in common with a simple duplicate – they are an exploration of the other side of the well-known. To find it, sometimes one needs to get behind the red curtains – “Special agent, are you there?”
His photographic pairs add up, for an occasional variety, to graceful triangles. But regardless of configuration, their common denominator is a peculiar understatement – the kind of understatement which only winds the relationship up. One photograph, for example, presents a detail of bathroom tiles, with a shot of cracked cobbles close behind. And paradoxically, the sterile cleanliness produces more anxiety than the collapsing, dilapidated surface. The dark stains on the pavement on a neighbouring photograph are equally unsettling. Or the lonely post standing in the sun-lit grass – a harbinger of a fencing that has never come to be. Elsewhere we discover the reverse of the scene – a leafless, young tree stump, emerging from the darkness like an awkward totem. It is these collisions of brightness and the dark that make up the structure and create the atmosphere of Dudziak’s photographs. They contain both peace and quiet, but no relief can be found there – rather a tension generated by things soon to come, or those already past. The photographer has no intention of capturing the decisive moment, or creating fantasy scenarios. He focuses instead on subtle harbingers, or cool proofs of events occurring in the order of time bereft of the present.
His exhibition becomes a waiting room. A place where we experience absence. Partly groping, but with a substantial share of intuition, Pawel Dudziak strives to guide us through the strata of derealised images. And if we lose sight of him – well, we’ll have no choice but to meet again in 25 years. After all, the bubblegum we so adore now will once more be in vogue.