Childhood, however joyful and carefree, often hides dramatic implications. It is the origin of complex traumas that linger into adult life and, because of this, it is one of the most explored themes in psychology and also in art. Young Polish photographer Karolina Wojtas (1996) is fascinated by it. Her projects draw inspiration from children’s memories and fantasies, in a perspective that oscillates between irony and tragedy. The childhood sphere from which Karolina Wojtas draws leads her to often investigate herself and her past. In the project entitled “We can’t live – without each other,” she reflects on the love-hate relationship with her younger brother. An extremely common and widespread dynamic in which many can recognize themselves.
The series is intimate, ironic and raw at the same time. Karolina, speaking about this project, tells how until the age of thirteen she was an only child, and so she wanted to remain. “Any time when my parent asking about siblings, I was telling them < I will take an ax and kill that kid and then eat >. One day he appeared, and we started our war… Now I am 26, and war still went, nothing has changed.”
The title itself, “We can’t live – without each other,” hides a contradiction, typical of fraternal relationships. On the one hand hatred, on the other love. On the one hand, the impossibility of living in close contact, on the other hand, not being able to do without each other’s presence. Rivalry and jealousy that sometimes result in love, sometimes in real fights. In fact, the photographs offer an intimate view of typical brother-sister battles, but with extreme and violent overtones taken to excess. The playfulness, expressed by the saturated colors, hints at a fun and light-hearted sphere, while the images directly communicate the grittier side of the fight. One shot shows the brother’s face bagged, another an arm burned by the iron, and yet another is completely filled with the marks of violent bites.
The exhibition of the series in question, held in Warsaw at the Naga Gallery in 2020, is itself an invitation for the viewer to experience this bivalent dynamic. The brilliance of the set-up expresses the playful sphere on the one hand, allowing the viewer to play with the photos themselves, reproduced in huge format and hung on the wall in “calendar” ways, while on the other hand it creates an uncomfortable situation.
Courtesy Karolina Wojtas