The photo series: “With”, consternates on the relation between a man and an animal - seemingly more
and more domesticated, tamed and taken over. However, when faced with modern, urban lifestyle do
the roles remain the same?
Animals, for a very long time, had an utilitarian function in our culture and their presence was to bring
the man measurable benefits. They were of much help in daily life and work, gave nourishment or
were the nourishment themselves. Dependencies, sometimes still noticeable in rural areas, become
upset with people migration to the city and the growing chasm between the man and the environment.
Stysiak’s works show how much those forms of relationships between the man and the surrounding
natural environment are becoming outdated. Very often an animal becomes the only link a person has
with the nature in urban areas. Adapted but also adopted, not much of an animal but more of a friend
now, a companion, a child of a single parent. The relation with the animal becomes a substitute for the
old forms of community, because the anonymity and loneliness in the city are much more painful.
The photo series takes us to the intimate and personal interiors of a big city; bedrooms, living rooms,
basements, by the favourite tree in the nearby park, in which there are the animals together with their
owners. The loneliness of the owners is further accentuated by the use of flash. Stysiak looks at them
from the observers’ point of view, who, like a peeping tom, is not interacting with the photographed.
She stands behind a glass wall and isolates herself by using the lens and darkness. The night becomes
her ally. Thanks to the applied actions she is able to see some inversion, distortion and show the lining
of human-animal relationships.
The titles of the individual works – “with Peter” (With_2), “with Gośka”( With_3) etc., suggest the
replacement of the traditional roles of man's relationship with the animal. Does a man really tame the
animal? Or maybe the animal tames the man and his environment, his intimacy, sneaking into the
places regarded as the most private ones and gradually taking control of them?
Text by Aleksandra Szymczyk©