Sets with a dedication; “To Mo”

-Marta Stysiak’s photographs from Hastings.

Fascination and dedication

Marta Stysiak used to come back to one of the English seaside towns. Each and every of her stays in
there was concerned with her working on the following photography project or film. This photogenic
location recognized by the artist is Hastings, which as many of its kind, has been deprived of its good
fame in the recent several decades. Victorian blither of the resort was replaced with sour reality of
a provincial town, population of which was formed according to British government tendencies i.e.
settling there people being under the social care of the state (mostly on the dole).
The concern of Stysiak was focused on a local urban landscape. Also she was submissive to the
influence of seaside light and specific seaside dynamics. This site specific photo activity and its
effects were defined by the context of a personal relations with local environment and the willingness
to examine the forces that influence this environment. The time she spent there, apart from it being
saturated with the local issues, it was also “haunted” by the past. On the series, the significant impact
had a relation between Stysiak and her friend Maurice (as in the title of the series), who was her guide
of a seaside town, its cheap bars and common problems.
Artists concerned about the architecture and sociology (E. Hopper) and seaside context (T. Emin) were
also of some kind of Inspiration to Stysiak.

Continuity of temporality

Through concentrating on temporality and vanishing, as well as its multi frame form, The “Sets” can
be read as an crippled, detained or condensed film footage. These grabbed from one continuous view
pictures, represent an act of having to stop in front of people and things, which transiency is visible,
which presence is only a projection of their future disappearance. Temporality is given permission to
occupy a permanent place in time. Stysiak’s photographs become monuments of different temporary
times while their reality is chalking and overgrow.
Pseudo filmic sets of photographic frames allure with an option of their eventual subordinate to
narration and lead the viewer to the next phase of being in contact with them, which is to face an
untold story.

Stysiak’s “Sets” filter the images as inputs of a daily flood. They suggest that they consist of pictures
taken from a longer sequence. They undermine the flow of picture registration and the work of human
vision, trying to solve the problem of image importance. They create the opportunity to consider the
importance of the object noticed in relation to other objects, captured moment in time, registering it
on time. In these works, the game of valuing the everyday begins. Reappraisal of the abandoned and
neglected, taking care of marginalized, exposure the dreary one. The sets, show the human need to
know the ending and fear of the temporary.

The power of vanishing. Stopping the dissolution

These photographic images put together become visual models of temporary states on the route to
fade, being destroyed, sunk into oblivion, leaving, changing lights, evaluation.- revaluation, visited
and exposed. Modern versions of urban zoning not only are a documentation of its vanishing but also
create in the viewer’s imagination visions of their former role they played, freshness and perfection.
Experimenting with sentimentality, concerned about the feelings of nostalgia and loss, Stysiak plays
parallel with involvement of photography in debunking and voyeurism. Her works consist of elements
of brutality and gentleness, their personal character is interlaced with conceptual reflection upon

perceiving reality and selecting the images. The photographs included in The Sets carry topographic
research results, which here are like complex registration of landscape craving of the seaside town
architecture. Observing alienated people and deserted architectural structures almost wrecked and
ruined, is more like being empathic than pending for sensational spectacular crash.

Mercenary ”multi image” purposes

The artist highlights the meaning of her style of working on The Sets, which bases on the final choice
of photographs when they are being taken. Basing on filmic thinking while taking the footage on the
photosensitive material, she creates a linear system of the photographs. Such action could be called
“the editing on the spot”. The method of working; “intended”, imposed system decided upon in a
performative moment of taking a photograph is also a commentary of perceiving the reality; the space,
which is already being formed by the time, economic and political conditions is “trapped” in the
sequence of aftermath.

In the Marta Stysiak’s photographs there is a moment of waiting. Multi-image visual constructions
present the conception of staring at transformation of moods and temporariness of the states and
reading stories about looking forward to status quo dynamic changes.

Text by Zbigniew Tomasz Kotkiewicz

Translation by Marta Stysiak