“The Philadelphia” to premier in Polish

On Jan. 11, 2008, the Center for Contemporary Art Solvay (CSW Solvay) in Krakow will be offering the public a chance to see a performance of “The Philadelphia,” a comedy by contemporary American playwright, David Ives.

Directed by Bartlomiej Piotrowski, the one-act play will be in Polish and, excitingly, will involve modern-style multimedia projections. Though performed on stage, “The Philadelphia” will also feature filmed segments shown on cinema screen, which are integrated into the theatrical piece.

“The Philadelphia” is one of six acts comprising “All in the Timing,” the most popular book of plays by David Ives dating from 1987 to 1993. Consequently, it is characterized by frequent wordplay, theatrical ingenuity, and quick humor.

The story revolves around a young man who runs into strange situations. Everything happens completely opposite to what he wants. As it turns out, he suffers from a metaphysical state called Philadelphia, where everything goes wrong and, as a result, life gets extremely complicated. Finally, the character finds a clever yet peculiar solution to the dilemma. It is a drama filled with tragic comedy, snappy talk and absurd plot twists. The play is not only fun, but also inspires reflection on philosophical and existential topics.

Born in 1950, Ives worked with an underground theatre in New York called “Pierogi,” whose establisher worked with director Bartlomiej Piotrowski before emigrating to the U.S. Together, they prepared a number of theatre performances in Krakow and Zakopane.

Organized by the U.S. Consulate in Krakow and CSW Solvay, “The Philadelphia” will begin at 7:00 p.m. in CSW Solvay, ul. Zakopianska 62.

For more information, contact:
CSW Solvay
tel.: (012) 266 98 12
solvay@solvay.krakow.pl

Grandmother as best model
The Krakow Post: What led you to photography and to the opening of this exhibit?

Maria Burzak: Firstly, I studied art ?painting is my main passion, whereas photography is somewhere on the side. So really, I consider myself as a half-amateur photographer. Yet I think these photos of my grandmother came out well for me, and I approach them very personally as she was very close to me. I hope to continue photography.

Q: Do you see similarities between painting and photography?

A: Yes. For example, I am very interested in lighting ? equally in photography as in painting. I do think that they are connected.

Q: How did the idea for this series originate?

A: The idea was very spontaneous. I simply wanted to take photos of my grandmother because I always liked photographing her. As for the costume ideas, I simply took out what I had from the closet and my grandmother came out so well, playing different roles. We had a lot of fun, both of us. And it turned out that each of the photos is different because, well ? thanks to my grandmother, who was a doctor but turned out to be not a bad actress either. She was brilliant. A marvelous person.

Q: You write in your introduction that “old age hides magnificent stories.” What influence did your grandmother’s stories have in the creation of these photos?

A: Oh, they had a great influence ? to this day I remember everything my grandmother told me about her life: incredible occurrences during wartime, her wonderful childhood, as well as tragic outcomes, some very sad ? but generally, it seems to me that my grandmother had a good life, despite the difficulties ? because Poland after the war, well, undeniably, everyone suffered with financial problems ? but my grandmother finished her medical studies in 1939, then during the war she already started working as a young doctor, continued to do so after the war.
She moved from Warsaw to the Silesia region, as she was born in Warsaw, and truthfully it seems to me that her whole life was very good. She devoted herself completely to her profession, genuinely a doctor by calling, an honest person who wore her heart on her sleeve and, on occasion, revealed an amazing sense of humour, which I think is visible in these photos.

Q: Did her stories bring inspiration for the scenes in the photos?

A: Not directly from my grandmother’s life, no. They were more my ideas ? some from scenes in films: some kind of femme fatale, Moulin Rouge, a little girl with her teddy bear, a beggar ? so I mainly made up the costumes myself.

Q: It’s likely our grandmother forgot about her age during the photo shoot. What did you like best about photographing her?

A: Yes, it wasn’t even the taking of the photos, but seeing that she really enjoys it, which showed me that she feels good, that I’m taking care of her, that I’m devoting time to her ? it seems that it was good fun for her, too. Now the photos are very valuable to me, as they are kind of a souvenir since she passed away a few years ago. Thanks to these photos, she is alive. That’s the value they have for me ? to her, simply the moment that I took care of her, that we had a laugh together and just played around.

Q: During what time period were the photos taken?

A: They were all taken during the one session, it didn’t take long maybe about 30 minutes, one hour, one photo after the other, it went by fast, it was this impulse. They were taken about five years ago, during my second year of college. I took the series as a free project. This is my first professional exhibit. My friends sent in my mini-portfolio without my knowledge, and I’m very happy that it worked out this way and that they are exhibited here.

Q: My grandmother, for instance, very much dislikes being photographed. What is it that made your grandmother “the best model”?

A: I think that she simply had this approach to life, where she was distanced from herself, with a great sense of humour, where she was able to maintain a broad perspective on things.
She wasn’t worried about the way she would look, what her granddaughter put on her head, and that’s probably why ? she just had such an approach on life, she was very spontaneous and open to my ideas.
I think she loved me very much, the same way I loved her, and I don’t know whether she expected to ever have her photos displayed on the walls of a gallery, but I don’t think she would have anything against it.

Q: What are the reasons for some of the technical decisions you made, such as dramatic lighting, black and white and posing of the subject?

A: Firstly, I like black and white photography. I like to emphasize the shape and lines of the face by using light, and it’s true, I illuminate the subject with a strong light. To see how the face changes depending on whether it’s lit from below or from the side.

Q: And how did you come up with the poses?

A: Well, my grandmother was 88 years old, had weak legs and was unable to do a huge variety of things, so she mainly remained sitting, and the portraits were mostly taken as she was sitting. But she was very energetic and still managed to do a lot with gestures ? so despite staying in place there was a lot of movement.

Q: What are you hoping people will discover in viewing this exhibit?

A: As I wrote in the introduction, I hope that they will stop and think: who was she?
Maybe it won’t occur to them that she was a doctor, probably instead that she was an actress, or I don’t know ? a teacher, of music for instance, but really to pay attention to an older person, because now there is a lot of focus on youth.
I find there is a great beauty in an older person, and often they are much more interesting than someone younger.
Let them wonder whether they have family members or neighbors to whom they could dedicate some time.
I now have a neighbor whom I go to like I used to visit my grandmother, whom I no longer have, and spending time with her brings me a lot of joy. I enjoy it very much, and suggest it to others who would like to do the same.

Q: How, do you think, would the effect on young viewers contrast with the effect on older viewers of this exhibit?

A: It’s likely that young viewers would approach it in a more humorous way, but on the other hand maybe those who are older will also find that it’s worth having a bit of fun at their age, that there is nothing wrong or embarrassing about it.
As a matter of fact, it brings great pleasure to an older person to joke around and be reminded of what it was like to be young. I hadn’t thought about how someone young or old would view these photos ? it seems to me that it would depend on the person, regardless of their age. I realize that these photos wouldn’t appeal to everyone ? so I think it really depends on the person, like my grandmother, who was eighty-eight years old, was very young in spirit, maybe even younger than I am.

Q: What’s next?

A: I would like to have more projects ? though there is currently this situation in Poland that not everyone who comes out of the Academy of Fine Arts gets to realize his or her artistic plans, because they have to first find a job to finance things. Photography is very expensive, as is painting.
I just hope that I will be able to continue to photograph and paint. As for a topic that I know will always interest me, it is, most importantly, the individual. And if I continue on this path, then the individual will always stand at the center of my creation ? with its sadness, its joy, and everything that I, too, carry with me. That’s how I imagine it.

Q: How would you like to sum up?

A: This exhibit is a symbol of gratitude for my grandmother, a tribute to her from me, her granddaughter, for everything she gave me in life.
She was so intelligent, so kind, and I most likely will never achieve being like that. It’s a shame she can’t be here with me but I think she is close to me and that she would be happy that I succeeded in having such a fine exhibit. And she probably wouldn’t have anything against her photos being displayed publicly.

For more info, contact
or visit Pauza:
ul. Florianska 18/3
1st floor
pauza@pauza.pl
www.pauza.pl

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