White Elephant by Piotr Zbierski
White Elephant forms part of Piotr’s book Push the Sky Away.
‘Push the Sky Away’ is a triptych, with each part of the work the consequence of what has gone before, as well as leading on to the next. It is a creative path that has given me an interest in the primeval cultures from which our own cultural codes have grown. As a consequence I attempt to extract an underlying structure, which I believe is unchanging and unchanged. My feeling is that this lies within the tradition of the emotions, rituals, and behaviour – elements which are shared in common across all cultures, and to which photography has access.
In a sense, each of us begins and ends his life from the primordial. Starting with the sense of touch, which places us within reality, allowing us to feel our feet, and moving on to those common elements of nature, which are so widely shared and experienced. The natural world offers a balance and collaboration which can appear contrary to the notion of human development and the progress of civilisation.
For me photography is a sensual meeting with people
It’s a medium that allows you to get closer to people and it is probably for this reason that I chose photography. A major objective of my work is to reach through to the essence of human emotions. To show a man in the way he has been created, a man from a primeval village.
I believe that photography is so significant because it is a language that can be used to express transition – our own and other people’s – and the passage of time. Yet each change is, in some sense, a disaster, not only because it leads to newness and to change, but also to an initial separation from the present.
There is also the question of variation and diversity, the roots of which are both familial and spiritual. I’m sure you have seen your own face reflected in the face of your grandfather or of another family member, either from a photograph or in their presence. Descendants are after all biological variations of their ancestors.
This becomes increasingly complex as we reach further and further into a past which we haven’t experienced with our own senses. The answer, for me, is in an instinctive reaction to natural, social and psychological elements: elements such as pain, happiness, ecstasy. Can these be tamed within an image? Yes, but only within the context of life.
Many of these goals seem impossible to achieve, but for me, creative work is not about achieving results, but about taking the right direction. A photographer is, after all, someone who is able to lose themself in those places where it is worth getting lost.