The 21st RPS GRANTEE Tomasz Laczny
We are pleased to announce that we are awarding three Reminders Photography Stronghold Grants from the 2019 first call of submissions from the December deadline as a result of three equally strong proposals from artists Tomasz Laczny, David Steinberg and Javier Alvarez.
Tomasz Laczny’s proposal “Erna Helena Anja“, David Steinberg’s proposal “Ouroboros” and Javier Alvarez’s proposal “PREDIO” are the 21st grantees selected by our six commissioned judges: Andrei Polikanov, Erik Vroons, Emmeline Yong, Monica Allende, Peggy Sue Amison and Staton Winter.
We are now scheduling their exhibitions in 2021, more news later!
Erna Helena Anja
Who are you when you lose your identity, family, and country?
After years I spent abroad I wanted to explore my roots — Poland. Poland for me is the memories of my childhood, happy days I spent mostly at my grandmother’s place. But it is also her story that blends into traumatic events of WWII and casts its dark shadow until today. It is also part of a legacy that was passed to the next generations.
My grandmother was German living on the border between Poland and Germany before WWII. She fell in love with a Polish guy. It was towards the end of WWII. It was forbidden. Both of them could be killed if that would be discovered. Moreover, she got pregnant and was hiding her pregnancy.
After the war, she was imprisoned in the camp for Germans. She gave birth to my mum but, because of her poor conditions, was not able to raise her and had to give her away. The European borders have been moved after WWII by the decision of a few key political figures and almost all Germans have been expelled (the largest forced migration in history). My grandmother hoping to be reunited with her daughter decided to stay but had to gain Polish nationality. For her as ex-German life in Poland was extremely difficult. She lived in the shadow of guilt and memories of what happened in Poland during WWII. All her family has been expelled. And it took many years for her to be with her daughter together again.
The story of my grandmother is a story about losing identity, family, and country in the face of traumatic historical events. It represents the situation of many people and nations finding themselves struggling with finding their own identity after the war in the shadow of nazism.
Ironically the story of my grandmother unfolds some similarities with my own. Living abroad for many years I experienced disconnection and isolation and struggled with finding my new identity. Also, there is the story of the absence of my daughter which I haven’t seen for almost 3 years now.
Profile | Tomasz Laczny
Tomasz Laczny — visual artist, researcher, photographer, author of photo books. Born in Poland, studied art, design and philosophy. His work revolves around issues of identity, loss, time and memory. He published a photobook “40” about refugee camps and conflict in Western Sahara which received honorable mention in 2016 Dummy Award Kassel competition. His second photobook “Disappearance”has been shortlisted to 2018 Kassel Dummy Award Competition. In 2019 he has been shortlisted Gomma Grant. Tomasz Laczny is also a book designer and educator. He lives and works in London.