Sylwia Kowalczyk studied graphic design and photography at Krakow Academy of Fine Arts and the Edinburgh College of Art. Her work lookes at using optical illusions to create an ambiguity about what is real and what isn’t.
Always using analogue trompes-l’oeils (ie. avoiding digital jiggery-pokery) to look at identity, fear, illusion and distortion.
Sylwia’s portraits were part of reGeneration2 that showcased the most promising 80 young photographers in the world (published as a book by Thames and Hudson and Aperture Foundation). Sylwia lives and works in Edinburgh.
Lethe is the river that cleanses Dante in Purgatory, the one that wipes memories of the dead as they drink from it or bathe in it. The poet Sylvia Plath steps up from 'the black car of Lethe, Pure as a baby'. It is an escape, a relief from our own physical limitations. 'The soul that has been rash enough to drink from the fount of Lethe... is reincarnated and again cast into the cycle of becoming', according to Mircea Eliade.
As important recollections slip from our memory, this loss brings its own kind of grief. The past becomes a vast, blank territory where even the most important memories from childhood are erased - if we do not remember them, perhaps these might as well not have happened in the first place.
'Lethe' is a collection of collages, portraits and created from Sylwia's own archival images these loose prints, randomly torn and assembled bits of paper, grow into new entities.