The Year in Pictures
This year has been a turbulent and complicated year for pretty much everybody. It’s been a stressful year where everything seems difficult and tumultuous. Yet like all periods that feel chaotic, there are also a lot of moments where life reaches its hand out from the other side, often shrouded in fog and mystery to pull you from even the deepest moments of despair, or most insignificant moments of malaise. I think through this year I’ve been relatively lucky and fortunate given the circumstances. I’m starting to reach the end of my graduate program, I’ve picked up more consistent work after a year of precariousness and in-sustainability, traveled probably too much, and was able to meet and make a variety of new friends along the way. I could on about everything I’ve learned this year and all of the life lessons and on and on. But honestly I’d just rather show you photos. But also a photo cannot represent a month in its entirety, but it further shows how the title of this article is a bit oxymoronic in its own right. But now that the year is closing and I review my photo archive and negatives, I figured I should choose a couple of photos that at least help me to contextualize and decode my chaotic, interesting and odd year.
The start of the year is a crunch month for Polish university students. University lectures come to an end and the exam season begins at the end of the month. In order to relieve some of the stress of school I put some cheap black and white film into my Nikon and ordered all the chemicals to develop it. My dad had shipped me his old Patterson tank and some miscellaneous odds and ends to help with the development. I had never developed film before so it was a fresh experience that went shockingly well for my first roll of developed film ever. Aside from the watermarks, lower contrast and occasional grain problems, it came out alright.
For almost twenty days my friend Theresa and I road tripped across most of the western half of Turkey. From Istanbul to Cappadocia to Izmir and more, it was a long and thrilling ordeal. We left Istanbul with a rental car on about the fifth day of the trip and flew down toll roads all the way to the middle of Anatolia, where Cappadocia lies. The landscape east of Ankara is like central Nevada, just miles of long arid stretches with mountain chain after mountain chain. We arrived in Göreme late in the night. The village sits in the heart of Cappadocia where the bizarre “hoodoo” like formations made of tuff arise from the ground. At 5am the next morning we took a hot air balloon ride and this was our first true view of Cappadocia in the daylight.
I already wrote about the month of March at length and took a series of landscapes during this abysmal span of time. You can read it here.
By the second month after the invasion had started a lot of nerves in Europe were still high. As refugees continued to come into Poland and journalist continued eastward, the uncertainty was still hanging in the air. Throughout most of April I channeled my own nerves by photographing the refugee help center at the Jewish Community Center in Kraków.
More board meetings, birthdays and presentations. I got to go home for a week mostly because I couldn’t get a refund from Lufthansa, but I was able to see Chris and Elaine which was great.
With exams finally finished in June, we partied like any student does after they survive their school year. It was a short, relaxing time. Beach time at craggy lakesides, museum tours, early afternoons at the cafe and movie nights. But it was also a bittersweet time, as a lot of classmates and friends had moved from Kraków to other cities around Europe, leaving the city behind and heading to the greater metropolises of Europe and elsewhere. This image is from south of Tarnów in the foothills of the Lower Beskid Mountains during a weekend we took at a friends house in the countryside.
With the first full academic year of graduate school finally over and a long summer setting in, I could finally take a breath and relax for a moment. The first weekend of July, Eliza and I flew to Zadar, a coastal city on the Dalmatian coast and enjoyed a beach vacation on the Adriatic Sea. I wrote in detail about the vacation here. July ended up being an overwhelming month. I returned to Kraków from Croatia and a week and a half later I found myself on a train bound for Vienna with the end destination being Sarajevo. I applied for a two week program that focused on art in post conflict Bosnia & Herzegovina and its social and political implications. I spent the end of July riding the rails down the Balkan Peninsula, arriving in Ljubljana, Slovenia at the beginning of August.
In August I had finally made my way to Sarajevo, traversing through Czechia, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia to get there. It was a week long ride on sleek modern trains, Yugoslav era locomotives, and on small Volkswagen buses through mountains and the sharp valleys in-between. Honestly I could write about Bosnia and Sarajevo for dozens upon dozens of pages. I miss Sarajevo quite a bit. The houses running up the valley wall seemingly to the sky while slow flowing rivers cut through the center of the city. My friend Prof. Irfan Hošić was correct in what he told me many years ago, in that it’s quite similar to Detroit, often reminding me of home in weird and uncanny ways. I met a world of amazing people there, in which each day was exciting and tiring simultaneously. My eagerness to return to Bosnia is burgeoning and I often find it on my mind. I hope to write about it more extensively in the meantime.
At the end of August I had moved apartments immediately after flying back from Belgrade and only had a few days to settle in before going to Michigan for a couple of weeks. Like most of my trips back to the US, I pack my schedule with lunches, dinners, meeting with family and friends and of course, photo shoots when I can. I got lucky and snapped this picture of Sophia right after she had moved to a new apartment.
I spent half of October in Michigan, especially in the Upper Peninsula, where my grandparents are from, and the other half of the month starting the new school year in Kraków. I went hiking with my family in the Porcupine Mountains, a small mountain range by the state line with Wisconsin. There’s a small resale shop in Ontonagon, the nearest town to the park, where I found a quintessentially Yooper scene at the resale shop.
As the winter sun rises over the Norther Hemisphere, days become shorter and sunlight becomes rare. I found myself cooking dinner at 4pm like a pensioner. I had also missed quite a few of my class sessions and was (and still am to an extent) feeling behind on school, even though I had yet to miss any deadlines. I also started instructing English part time which is far more fun than I anticipated on it being, even if it is challenging to work with the students sometimes. Early winter, especially in snow swept Europe, is a time for low lit candles, mulled wine and small conversations at even smaller cafes.
The end of the year, once again packed with lectures, work, birthdays, dim-lit dinners and trans-Atlantic flights. It’s good to be back in Michigan and to see friends and family again, especially since I won’t be able to come back for at least a year. I figured a photograph from Cargi’s birthday party of us cheering to his health was the proper image to end this year with.
Acknowledgements to 2022
I’ll use the end of this article to thank everyone that has helped me and supported me this past year. Most notably would be Prof. Alina Klin, my dear friend and former professor who has helped me greatly in adjusting to life in the city, moving & finding apartments, and for helping to keep me on track. Thanks to Sophia Brown, for being my muse and constant pillar of support. I’d like to thank Nick Hagen for reminding me to never give up. Thanks to Prof. Irfan Hošić, who pushed me many years ago to take a closer look at art, and for encouraging me to travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina. I’d also like to thank all of my friends at university for their love and support, helping me solve and innumerable amount of problems, and for helping me survive this dramatic year. Of course, thanks to all my family and friends on the other side of the Atlantic who continue to support me, and anyone else I didn’t mention by name.