The line between market kitsch and aesthetic value

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When Krakow’s Museum of Contemporary Art asked Anna Orłowska and Mateusz Choróbski to create a story themed ‘art market’ for its Forum magazine, the pair turned to a bustling street fair in the small town of Radomsko. “We had two weeks to think of an idea and realise it,” says Choróbski. “We visited the market a few times, bought objects we thought would work, and then photographed them in different configurations. We usually work on projects for a long time, so it was both refreshing and challenging to do this in such a short period.”

The idea behind Tribute to Moda Polska (which translates as ‘Polish fashion’) was to transform ordinary items into art objects, says Orłowska, who featured in BJP’s June 2013 issue. “This ironic gesture was made to reflect on the value of contemporary art,” explains the 29-year-old, who studied at the national film school in Łodz. “Where is the line between market kitsch and objects of aesthetic value?”

The series is also “a tribute to important places in Polish towns and cities”, comments Choróbski, an artist and Orłowska’s partner in life as well as art. “For some people, especially those who live outside the cities, a market is a main source of food, tools, furniture and clothes.”

Orłowska and Choróbski arranged the objects against block colour backdrops before photographing them. “Some of the constructions resemble a pyramid shape, while others are loosely associated with art styles from past decades, although this wasn’t deliberate,” says Orłowska. “I’m interested in the potential for constructing what I want in front of the camera. I’ve been working in this way for some time, but lately I’ve returned to the documentary side of photography. In a way, this series is a result of that – [the images] are constructions but also rooted in the reality of the objects we found.”

The pair had hoped to create 50 images in total, but a move to New York required they change tack; Orłowska won a year-long scholarship at the School of Visual Arts in 2013 after reaching the final at Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography (and she showed work at last year’s edition). 

“The move from Poland made continuing the project impossible,” she says. “But we are considering doing a project on Greenpoint, a Polish neighbourhood in Brooklyn.”

Find more of Anna’s work here.

First published in the April 2014 issue. You can buy the issue here.