Marcin Sudziński

The father

For all my life, I remembered only two images that reminded me of my father. The first one was the walk for which he took me in a pram, the other one was a racing car that I received for Christmas. And that’s it. No picture of a figure, no image of a face in my mind. My father left the family shortly after I was born. For me, the only evidence of his existence were black-and-white wedding photographs which my mother kept in the album. Two young people in wedding outfits, in a photographic studio. Looking at them was like watching something abstract. I would put these pictures back on a shelf, and sometimes return to them.

In 2004, I found my father. More than twenty years after the last meeting, which I remembered really vaguely, I stood in the doorway of his flat. Coincidentally, 2004 was also the year when I got interested in photography. This fascination developed at the same time as I got to know my father better and tried to enter his life, which turned out to be heading straight for self-destruction. We used to spend a lot of time together. First, we tried to solve problems that didn’t allow him to live with dignity and put him on the edge of society. We renovated the flat together, we went to a therapy and we organized some welfare support. My father finally went to work. Unfortunately, this progress didn’t last long, and the situation returned to the starting point.
In winter 2006, I took a picture of him which later turned out to be the most important for me. Father didn’t mind having his pictures taken. He was convinced that one day these images would become important to me, and he mentioned it sometimes. In the most difficult moments, I would just take the camera out in silence, and he would just stare into the lens. This was our form of communication. I think he felt that at that point all my attention was focused on him. Since 2007, my father’s situation became increasingly difficult. His house got inhabited by people whom he let in a bit too easily. Finally, electricity and water were cut off, and the eviction notice came. In the early spring of 2008, my father got seriously ill and was taken to hospital. Doctors diagnosed him with cancer. The tumor was malignant and progressed quickly. I told him about it when he felt a little better. Then, we took a photo on a bench in front of the hospital. He got a referral for radiotherapy, which had no significance in this case. He died in a hospice in the summer. He didn’t see any of the pictures we had taken together. The negatives have remained – the most precious present he ever gave me.

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