Stefan Szczygieł. His photographic and film work

Warschau_Urban-Panorama_01
Documentary photos for the Urban Panorama installation in the “Centrum” underground railway station in Warsaw in front of the Palace of Culture and Science. Urban Panorama I, 2007/2008, 5oo x 18oo cm.

In addition Szczygieł’s use of the word “space” is not only analogue, but more especially technically digital and mentally virtual. In this way anything and everything becomes imaginable – even the manipulation which is no longer (immediately) recognisable. The picture entitled Warsaw, Przystanek tramwajowy (English: tram stop) is a good example of this surreal but also political and social irritation: for the night-time orange and brown illuminated tram stop in the square is dominated by huge posters, advertisements, business logos and lettering that seem like foreign bodies that have been copied and inserted, and which almost completely dissolve the architectonic space. The square suggests that the centre of the Polish capital has been turned into an overwhelming consumer space. All the signets, posters and banners seem to float visibly above the buildings. Just as in university libraries in the USA, where portraits of presidents are often hung above the bookshelves in order to give us the impression that these gentlemen are the guardians of knowledge, when we look at Szczygieł’s picture we begin to think that business enterprises and their expensive advertising are the rulers of the city.

Even in Szczygieł’s other precisely detailed urban landscapes he always leaves a suspicion of digital changes hanging in the air. The artist is fully aware that he is forcing his viewers to confront his works in a thorough and critical manner. This starts with his spatial manipulations and ends with his manipulation of colours. What is known as artistic freedom in painting is quickly turned into seductive manipulation in photography, for the technical possibilities are becoming increasingly perfect with the result that the changes can no longer be seen. Szczygieł exploits this: for it is precisely their precision, their sharply focused details and background that make the photos seem “honest” and “truthful”. When all’s said and done, everything seems to be displayed right down to the tiniest detail.

Thus Szczygieł distantiates himself from the widespread, naive idea that a landscape is nothing but a piece of nature. “Simple” nature was never “landscape” –he seems to want to say – and this also applies to the history of art. The selection of motifs, the composition and arrangement of elements of nature were the things that made up landscape paintings. Nowadays it is possible to melt the elements into one another by digital processing. This even results in putative images of places in the world that have simply been completely (or for the most part), put together on a computer. These are nothing other than images and sequences of images and pictures of alleged “landscapes” that have been assembled like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Looked at the other way around, images of real places – like Szczygieł’s “Tram Stop”, for example – increasingly often give us the impression that we are looking at a computer simulation.

 

Mediathek
  • Stefan Szczygieł

    Stefan Szczygieł

    Stefan Szczygieł, 2009 in Hamburg. Photo: Hinrich Franck
  • Coin

    Coin

    From the series “Blow Ups”, 2001-2005, “Coin” (5 cents), photogram, 200 x 200 cm.
  • Silberdose

    Silberdose

    From the series “Blow Ups”, 2001-2005, “Silver tin”, photogram, 200 x 260 cm.
  • Blatt

    Blatt

    From the series “Blow Ups”, 2001-2005, “Leaf” (Brooch), photogram, 350 x 200 cm.
  • Buch

    Buch

    From the series “Blow Ups”, 2001-2005, “Book” (Collection of legal regulations), photogram, 230 x 200 cm.
  • Latarka-Elekrodyn

    Latarka-Elekrodyn

    From the series “Blow Ups”, 2001-2005, “Elektrodyn”, photogram, 250 x 200 cm.
  • Feuerzeug

    Feuerzeug

    From the series “Blow Ups”, 2001-2005, “Cigarette lighter”, photogram, 200 x 300 cm.
  • Guzik

    Guzik

    From the series “Blow Ups”, 2001-2005, “Guzik”, photogram, 200 x 200 cm.
  • Telefon

    Telefon

    From the series “Blow Ups”, 2001-2005, “Telephone”, photogram, 200 x 260 cm
  • Taschenuhr

    Taschenuhr

    From the series “Blow Ups”, 2001-2005, “Pocket watch” (opened), photogram, 250 x 200 cm.
  • Zorki

    Zorki

    From the series “Blow Ups”, 2001-2005, “Zorki”, photogram, 200 x 300 cm.
  • Warschau, Brücke

    Warschau, Brücke

    From the series “Urban Spaces”, 2005-2009, “Warsaw, Bridge”, Inkjet photo print, 60 x 170 cm (Edition: 10).
  • Warschau, Hala Mirowska

    Warschau, Hala Mirowska

    From the series “Urban Spaces”, 2005-2009, “Warsaw, Hala Mirowska”, Inkjet photo print, 60 x 170 cm (Edition: 10).
  • Warschau, Złote Tarasy

    Warschau, Złote Tarasy

    From the series “Urban Spaces”, 2005-2009, “Warsaw, Zlote Tarasy”, Inkjet photo print, 80 x 170 cm (Edition: 10).
  • Warschau, Klostermauer

    Warschau, Klostermauer

    From the series “Urban Spaces”, 2005-2009, “Warsaw, cloister wall” (Powisle), Inkjet photo print, 60 x 144 cm (Edition: 10).
  • Warschau, Stadion

    Warschau, Stadion

    From the series “Urban Spaces”, 2005-2009, “Warsaw, stadium”, Inkjet photo print, 60 x 200 cm.
  • Warschau, Dach

    Warschau, Dach

    From the series “Urban Spaces”, 2005-2009, “Warsaw, roof”, Inkjet photo print, 110 x 100 cm.
  • Warschau, Saski Park

    Warschau, Saski Park

    From the series “Urban Spaces”, 2005-2009, “Warsaw, Saski Park”, Inkjet photo print, 60 x 170 cm (Edition: 10).
  • Warschau, Ursynów

    Warschau, Ursynów

    From the series “Urban Spaces”, 2005-2009, “Warsaw, Ursynòw”, Inkjet photo print, 108 x 60 cm (Edition: 10).
  • Warschau, Park

    Warschau, Park

    From the series “Urban Spaces”, 2005-2009, “Warsaw, Saski Park”, Inkjet photo print, 60 x 170 cm (Edition: 10).
  • Warschau, Łazienkowska

    Warschau, Łazienkowska

    From the series “Urban Spaces”, 2005-2009, “Warsaw, Łazienkowska”, Inkjet photo print, 60 x 170 cm.
  • Warschau, Przystanek tramwajowy

    Warschau, Przystanek tramwajowy

    From the series “Urban Spaces”, 2005-2009, “Warsaw, Przystanek tramwajowy”, Inkjet photo print, 100 x 240 cm.
  • Köln, Hohenzollernbrücke

    Köln, Hohenzollernbrücke

    From the series “Urban Spaces”, 2005-2009, “Cologne, Hohenzollern bridge”, Inkjet photo print, 85 x 240 cm.
  • Köln, Hauptbahnhof

    Köln, Hauptbahnhof

    From the series “Urban Spaces”, 2005-2009, “Cologne, Central Station”, Inkjet photo print, 100 x 230 cm.
  • Köln, Museum Ludwig

    Köln, Museum Ludwig

    From the series “Urban Spaces”, 2005-2009, “Cologne, Ludwig Museum”, Inkjet photo print, 150 x 240 cm.
  • Paris, Notre Dame

    Paris, Notre Dame

    From the series “Urban Spaces” 2005-2009, “Paris, Notre Dame”, Inkjet photo print, 95 x 240 cm.
  • Paris, Louvre

    Paris, Louvre

    From the series “Urban Spaces”, 2005-2009, “Paris, Louvre”, Inkjet photo print, 95 x 240 cm.
  • Paris, Seine-Ufer

    Paris, Seine-Ufer

    From the series “Urban Spaces”, 2005-2009, “Paris, Bank of the Seine”, Inkjet photo print, 80 x 240 cm.
  • Warschau, Urban Panorama I

    Warschau, Urban Panorama I

    Documentary photos for the Urban Panorama installation in the “Centrum” underground railway station in Warsaw in front of the Palace of Culture and Science. Urban Panorama I, 2007/2008, 5oo x 18oo cm.
  • Warschau, Urban Panorama II

    Warschau, Urban Panorama II

    Documentary photos for the Urban Panorama installation in the “Centrum” underground railway station in Warsaw in front of the Palace of Culture and Science. Urban Panorama II, 2007/2008, 5oo x 18oo cm...