Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

The destroyed Portrait – The Story of one Photograph

Dec 06, 2013 - Mateusz Sarello

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Mateusz Sarello: Destroyed Portrait

Today I would like to tell you the story of one photograph. This is the most important photograph in my book "Swell". It is the border, a turning point. I will start from the beginning. Since the autumn of 2010 I had been working on a documentary project about the Baltic Sea. My girlfriend accompanied me during the journeys to the Baltic until our parting. This portrait is a commemorative photo that I took of her on our last trip. I very rarely do photos as souvenirs, actually, I never do, for I prefer images to remain in my head. And these commemorative photos are not important to me, even I do not develope them personally. And so it was then. At the time when I left the negative at the photolab, we were still together. When I  picked it up, I was single. The photolab's personel told me, that they had a processor failure and that they were very sorry, because the negative got destroyed. I froze when I saw it. There were pictures on it even from much earlier times, but the only destroyed frames were the ones where she was. I hid the negative deep in a drawer and forgot about it. My friend Michal Luczak, curator of my exhibition at the Photomonth in Krakow in 2012, reminded me of it. Michal asked me, if I had any private photos from trips with her to the Baltic Sea. I had to return to the damaged portrait, search for it in the bottom drawer. I did it reluctantly, as if some bad energy was associated with it. But we needed it, just to build a narrative.