Katarzyna Widmańska

born in 1978 in Cracow, lives in Warsaw, Poland

Alice in Wonderland (2008-2009)

The exhibition by Katarzyna Widmańska takes us to the dreamy reality of one of the most remarkable literary works of the 19th century. Alice in Wonderland has been the source of artistic inspirations almost since the beginning. In the case of Widmańska’s photographs, we deal  with
a completely new way of seeing the magical world created by Lewis Carroll. We will not see the linear reconstruction of the storyline here. From the numerous characters and scenes present on the pages of the novel, Widmańska, by her own key, chose only some. However, what is more important than the selection of characters is the way in which they are presented.
Feminity, the main motif of Katarzyna Widmańska’s work, seems to be the prism through which the artist looks at the story of Alice. Almost all characters in the artist’s interpretation are women, or at least, due to Widmańska’s endeavours, you can clearly see the element of feminity in them. The Mad Hatter, Mr Caterpillar, King of Hearts and other characters are additionally surrounded by an atmosphere of mysterious anxiety, thanks to which Alice in Wonderland develops an intriguingly predatory character.
The artist has been aiming at realizing the project for a long time now. Illustrations to Carroll’s novel were supposed to be the subject of her degree. However Widmańska’s nascent love to photography made her decide to present the story of Alice through the camera lens. Preparations took a few years. Time brought new ideas on particular frames and stylization ideas came up. Finally, in the middle of 2008, Widmańska started to realize the project.
It is worth emphasising that Katarzyna Widmańska’s role in the process of realization of Alice doesn’t come down to ‘pressing the shutter’. The artist is also the author of all stylization ideas, stage design and some of the costumes. The place where the set was located influenced what we can see at the exhibition as well. The old, seemingly neglected little manor changes into real Wonderland in Widmańska’s photographs, as if touched with a magic wand.
The artist herself emphasises that the final result was only possible thanks to enormous ardour and involvement of people participating in the project.
Katarzyna Widmańska’s exhibition draws us into a mysterious world, sometimes dark, but uninterruptedly stunning. The artist herself emphasises that there is no hidden message in her photographs waiting to be discovered. Their aim is to hypnotize, involve the observer into an alternate reality, to affect his senses and emotions, with no unnecessary detour into the sphere of rationality.

by Tomasz Żytkowski

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