They left, but why, where to? Why would anyone want to leave a town like that, clean and pastel? And if they did leave, it must have happed just a moment ago, as evidenced by parked cars, school boards covered with writing, things scattered in front of houses. In Łukasz Zgrzebski’s photographs, these traces of human presence build the tension and pose questions about the absent presence and its causes. Certain features of the landscape and architecture in the photos suggest that the cycle was created in Scandinavia, which we used to associate with prosperity and perfect symbiosis of people and nature. So why is the world in the photographs empty? Where did the inhabitants of this perfect place go? The photographer himself decided to leave Norway after spending several years there; he has left, but will he ever come back?
You can also try to read this story differently and look at Zgrzebski’s photographs as if they showed an empty film set, ready for the arrival of actors/characters who are just about to populate it. The colour palette chosen by the photographer makes the landscapes and objects seem not entirely real, too perfect, as if cut out of cardboard. This impression is compounded by the extraordinary clarity of the frames, which are carefully composed and always break off in the right place so as not to reveal too much. Their individual elements give an irresistible illusion of having been arranged by a set designer who has seen to every detail. All of this builds a very subjective and poetic vision of a Scandinavian town, in which even fragments of industrial infrastructure become visually attractive objects that go beyond their utilitarian function. Zgrzebski’s characteristic way of framing and using colour hints at unobtrusive but palpable inspiration by the oeuvre of colour photography classics such as Stephen Shore.
Text: Agata Ciastoń
Łukasz Zgrzebski (b. 1990) has graduated from the AFA School of Photography in Wrocław and Wrocław University of Science and Technology. In his practice as a photographer he focuses on spaces and emotions. He was a member of DERME, a group of audiovisual artists combining ambient and noise music with experimental cinema. Together with Pedro Ferreira, he presented his works at the exhibition Landscapes Are Silence, Urbanscapes Just Noise. He spent the years 2014–2015 photographing Scandinavia.