Investing her interest in memory and its mechanisms into her work, Polish artist Weronika Gesicka modifies American stock photography from the 1950s and ’60s, questioning and altering the reality of each captured moment. The series has been entitled ‘Traces’, to highlight the significance of the photograph as a trace of the past — whether that trace is fact or fiction is left for us to decide.
Joyous scenes of family vacations and everyday achievements, captured and contained forever, attempt to reflect the reality of the era — Weronika finds fault in this logic of stock photography. Subject to an abundance of treasured and personal memories now publicly exhibited in an online image bank, the question of truth plays on Weronika’s mind. She expresses her difficulty in deeming an image as spontaneous or staged, seeking answers to who the people in photographs are, or were, and whether or not they’re actors playing the part of a genuine family. “We know nothing of the actual ties between the individuals in the photographs; we can only guess at the truthfulness of their gestures and gazes,” states Weronika. The prospect of the unknown blurs the representation of the past, potentially cementing a false image of the life of our ancestors. Weronika’s photomontages present the original photographs, modified in various ways, to create new contexts and demonstrate the ease of altering reality. Although humorous, the manipulations transform the ambience of the images from wholesome to uncomfortable. Weronika’s interpretations explore the stereotypes of an era and radiate a deeper exploration of identity, imperfection, relationships and self-consciousness.