The Residents ©Justyna Janus
I remember how many years ago I was “distressing” a fellow member of the Polish Photo Artists Association, Zofia Rydet, when she was showing me a set of the photographs full of elderly people in their premises. I was saying, with confidence, that the images repeat, that the visual language is too obvious, that her project will end up as a meaningless collection of pictures. I was very young, with little knowledge and experience.
I did not understand the power of that undertaking. Luckily I corrected my mistake and still before the completion of the “Sociological recording” I managed to wake up, to reflect, and – of course – apologize her politely for my arrogance, for my luck of reflection – luck of wisdom.
These days I look at Justyna Janus’s collection of the colorful photographs from quite a different perspective. She is a young photo enthusiast who regularly shows up during my photo workshops which I have been running for a small group of enthusiasts in Cracow for years.
I look at those photographs and I feel as if I was looking at a new opening, sort of the second chapter of an untold story.
The power of this idea – to consequently photograph a narrow subject in a similar way, directed and in the same way, obedient in a coherent form – has nothing lost until these days. On the contrary – it remains poignant and enforced by a precision of digital photography, precisely reproduced color, which in this case is of an utmost importance.
This collection strikes with a honest, sociological recording. Look how much you can see here, how much you can learn from it. About us, about our conditions, about Poland. Justyna told me that that in order to gain the favor of the inhabitants she asked them to select by themselves all the places around their houses, to choose the place as a background where they feel well. Something like a gala-style, something nice, perhaps something they created by themselves. I present you, with permission from Justyna Janus as the author, her unusual collection “Portrait of Inhabitants” which she created in 2017 photographing over 300 houses with their residents, in Aleksandria village, near Częstochowa.
Tomasz Tomaszewski, March 2018
The Residents, © Justyna Janus