Leica Oskar Barnack Award Newcomer 2012: Piotr Zbierski „Pass by Me“

Piotr Zbierski – Pass by Me, Newcomer 2012

Feelings and passion that take on visual form. Piotr Zbierski takes the viewer on a journey where the context is left in the dark, making his impulsive photographs all the more unusual. Although he travelled through Europe and Asia, the series, with which he was honoured as the LOBA Newcomer in 2012, is actually about his own inner journey.

A farewell and a beginning, memories and emotions, black and white images. For Zbierski, photos tie together a fragmented past. His series, “Pass by Me”, is the final segment of his long-term “White Elephants” project, and symbolizes the end of a great inner and outer journey. “It is the last part of the project and deals especially with the feeling that an important chapter in my life was over. I feel like I have changed, and my pictures have also changed in the same degree. “Pass by Me” means that I’m ready to start a new chapter,” he explained in 2012.

“The reason I chose the medium of photography is that it allows you to get closer to people. Its unique directness enables me to show the existence of the imagination in the real world.”

For a number of years, his photographic work took him to different locations: from eastern to western Europe, and then Asia; place and time fall by the wayside, and it is Zbierski’s personal imaginativeness that creates the ground-breaking imagery. His pictures are as diverse as only emotions can be: the motif may be sketchy, or very clear, or just a distorted impression – and yet, none of them are abstract. In his images, he concentrates on faces, gestures, the expression of feelings and relationships. Although the portfolio appears to have a random structure at first sight, an underlying order and relationship exists between the images. Together they build an entirety and relate a story of happiness, memories and encounters characterised by the photographer’s own particular style. His pictures should not be original, but authentic. They show people and landscapes, children and the elderly. What at first looks like a snapshot, later reveals precise composition.

“With photography, it’s not about being original, but about being authentic.”

For Zbierski black and white photography is important. The impact of his images is achieved with the contrasts of the grey scale, as well as the expressionist exposure. In fact, it is not the motifs and encounters that pass him by during his journey – as the title might seem to suggest –, but rather a very personal feeling that manifests itself in his enchanting images; and they do not try to answer questions about location, time or setting. “They leave the doors open, and some of the answers are found outside the frame. For me, photography is more about searching than about finding specific solutions,” the Polish photographer explains. “Of course, I too want to know the answers,” he adds. “But it is only when I forget this natural curiosity, that I can take pictures. For me, photography is a passion, and also an obsession at times,” Zbierski says about the contradictions in his work. “Sometimes it depresses me, and sometimes it makes me incredibly happy.”

(Text updated 2020)

Interview with Piotr Zbierski (2016)

Piotr Zbierski

Piotr Zbierski was born in Łódź in 1987, attended the Polish National Film School from 2006 to 2012 and graduated with a Master’s Degree. His work is exhibited internationally. His first comprehensive publication “Push the Sky Away” appeared in 2016, and in 2020 he published the book “Echoes Shades”.

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