Landscapes at a Time Like This
Attempting to decompress with landscapes
This piece was partly written in March 2022, and was edited & published in its current form in September of the same year.
After a certain amount of time you sort of lose track in dealing with something so constant and overbearing. As my economics professor put it, “were living in a new psychosis”. I remember waking up around 6:30am like I normally do in my tiny, plasticky hotel room in Sofia, Bulgaria with over 800 notifications on my phone. It had started. I had been monitoring the situation with consistency for the past week and had been speculating about the situation with my friends and colleagues since before the holiday season. The metallic and hollow airport was almost empty at 10am. Sofia’s only flight to Kyiv was cancelled that morning. I connected through Warsaw back to my home in Kraków. My phone was exploding with text and calls from family and friends. Taxiing down the tarmac I had a college buddy asking me to help get his cousin out of Kharkiv. That's the moment I realised that the foreseeable future would be nothing like before. The city felt like it was in a dazed chaos. Everything felt fuzzy, and I didn’t even have anything personally at stake. Most of my Ukrainian friends and colleagues had gotten to Poland with few exceptions. I was quite simply just living in this new situation that I could have never imagined a few weeks prior. Before I knew it I was cleaning out dorms and living spaces for people coming in from across the border, moving food and other essentials. University and its immense workload felt brutally inconsequential. Military planes were flying overhead with grave consistency. Some of my friends made a split back to their respective home countries, with mine being too far away to flee in any economic or sensical manner. Lunacy to flee, dizzying to stay, the choice is yours. I remember meeting at a friends apartment for lunch the day after everything started. The few of us that were there were in complete shock and gridlocked on what we could even do. USAF Globetrotters roared overhead as we tried to make sense of the situation. Some already had plans to visit family out of the country and decided to extend their leave out of caution. Myself, like the majority of my friends, stayed in town and began to navigate the stormy waters of what was to come. In an effort to cut through the mental and psychotic cloud that loomed over myself, I decided to take a small series of landscapes in a very provincial manner. Just one roll of film. I couldn’t think of anything more banal to focus my attention on besides landscapes and my surroundings in general. I exposed the roll improperly (probably a stop over if I remember correctly) and had it scanned on a subpar scanner, leaving it to look like a cloudy mess, just like the inside of my head. The mental and emotional state of the one pressing the button is often reflected in the work that they create. Even if the results of my photographs were relatively unpleasing, it was still the process of framing, metering and executing the shot that was able to bring some sort of therapeutic respite in these ever trying times. I don’t think I’ve ever shot a roll of film that so closely matched the state of my subconscious as I did that afternoon.