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Katarzyna Majak: Women of Power
Witches, healers, spiritual leaders
Itinerant Exhibition, Poland
Slovene Ethnographic Museum, 7 June - end of July 2012
On the occasion of the international festival of contemporary photography Photonic Moments 2012 organised by PHOTON the Slovene Ethnographic Museum is host Exhibiton from Poland, entitled Women of Power, created by Katarzyna Majak. The Exhibiton consists of 12 color photographs depicting witches, healers, sorceresses, visionaries, spiritual leaders and shamanic techniques practitioners; interviews with these women compiled into a book, and Three videos pieces.
According to what Evelyna Jarosz wrote about Images of Power: "The Exhibition title points to Katarzyna Majak's intention to develop and socially rehabilitate women identifying themselves with the widely understood spirituality of their ancestors, Mother Goddess, pagan beliefs, and old sources of wisdom, which may still empower and inspire contemporary secularized consciousness by its valuable content and alternative energy.
The series of photographs, whose number is equal to the number of cycles in the Moon calendar, consists of king-style portraits, where women wear clothing best suiting their role, and hold their attributes - the objects of power. The women represented - the youngest in her 30's and the oldest in her late 80's - wear no make-up but their faces emanate with power and self-assurance, disclosing a way of being beyond the culturally imposed coercion on women (especially those high in professional hierarchy) to beautify. By analogies full of asymmetry, such women may be treated as a counterpoint to Majak's out-of-the-mainstream typology of the charismatic women of power.
The contrast between the figures dressed in colorful unconventional clothes, and light, even cold, background - a photographic white cube - by means of which the photographer shows the official character of her act to bring visibility to individuals who pass unnoticed in everyday life. The intensified impression of the women's presence is thus connected with a simultaneous distance between us and those recognized in the so-called "circles of the insiders." The series does not hide its staged character where the sterility of presentation gains iinportance as well as its references to the photographic tradition of mnostly anthropological character, the one based on the sociological classification of the portrayed.
Looking at the number of contemporary women of power portraits what comes to mind is anthropological image theory and the history of "the power of images/representations" reception. Majak's photographic witch sabbath with its reflned tension touches upon an issue of a "woman of power" versus her representation. In addition the series' specific formula - 1:1 - creates privileged conditions for the viewers to react to the evidence of the problematic possibility of equivalence."