Artist, editor and publisher
Artist, editor and publisher
“How to live in times of global warming? Experimenting with new and out-of-date colour negatives and photographic paper, Małgorzata’s landscapes are flamboyant, mesmerising, haunting. Each page of Lassen unravels a sense of urgency.” - Delphine Bedel
In the age of the Anthropocene and the midsts of the climate crisis, sheets of ice crashing into the sea, wildfires and ravaged forests have become the picturesque tropes of environmental disaster. As with any cliché, overuse has lessened their original impact, raising the question: how can we continue to depict this urgent issue in a way that maintains attention? Małgorzata Stankiewicz’s latest book, Lassen, offers one solution. Striking and often ambiguous, the full-bleed images establish an atmosphere of abstract shapes and colours, providing only occasional orienting glimpses of trees and ground.
Taken in forests, beside lakes, and on mountain passes, the connection between the work and the dangers facing these environments is emphasised by titles repurposed from news articles, such as Untitled (2017 Was California’s Largest And Most Destructive Fire Season on Record). In this light, mesmerising reds and yellows that might otherwise be associated with nights around a campfire, instead call to mind the bushfires currently raging in Australia and other vulnerable ecosystems worldwide.
Lassen is the result of a process-driven practice that relies on intuition and experimentation. Shot on a variety of new and expired film stock, the original images of plants and landscapes were developed in a colour darkroom, where preparations are performed in pitch-black and slight variations in temperature can have drastic results. Wanting to create large-scale prints without buying new paper, Stankiewicz chose to patchwork together smaller sheets. This ad hoc solution has been taken further in the book design. Upon being introduced to the off-set printing process, the artist recognised a parallel with the full press sheets which are later cut down, most often to make eight pages of the final book. By printing each photograph to cover an entire press sheet, Stankiewicz further fragments the already ambiguous images. One not only sees a view of the world that has been twisted in colour, this vision is merely a fraction of the full image.
The question of how to depict climate change in a meaningful way is actually twofold. It not only concerns our relationship to a global crisis that manifests through both subtle changes and spectacular weather events, it also relates to the way we approach images. As Stankiewicz puts it, ‘so many of the visual materials we engage with today are cropped, reassembled, and resized to fit the platforms and devices we view them on. Is it still important to see the entire picture or does a fragment suffice? And what happens if we can only see fragments and never the full image?’ In a time of compassion fatigue, visual apathy, and the endless scroll, it’s questions like these that make clear that part of generating change relies not only on the issues at hand but the ways in which we look at them.
Text by Ish Doney.
About Delphine Bedel
Delphine Bedel is an artist, writer, curator and editorial director. Known for her cutting-edge publications and feminist education projects, she works with leading cultural institutions, museums, and art and design academies. She founded META/BOOKS, a publishing and curatorial platform. Recent publications include Island Hoping by Christina Dimitriadis and Lassen by Małgorzata Stankiewicz. Bedel is a member the German Photography Academy. She serves as a jury member, lecturer and portfolio reviewer for photography festivals including Paris Photo, Contact Festival Toronto, Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Institut pour la Photographie, Futures, C/O Berlin Award in 2019. delphinebedel.com www.metabooks.nl