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The story goes like this: There was a girl, and the girl loved the sun. She loved it so much that she withdrew to the high rocks and waited daily for the sun’s return. Eventually, she forgot how to speak. She forgot what the valleys looked like. She forgot the sand and the sea. All day long, her face followed the arc of the sun. And at night, she slept with sunflowers.
It’s the tale of Helios and Clytie, all of it except for the last part. In Ovid’s version, Clytie transforms into a heliotrope - a flower that turns its head toward the sun. But in Agafia Polynchuk’s photographs, Clytie cannot transform. So she lies down with the head of a colossal sunflower in her arms. She clings to it, even in her dreams.
In Polynchuk’s dream rooms, we find dead starlings in dollhouses, a moth on a soft apricot, a snail tracing rings around rose petals. The fragile tokens of everyday life end up in the strangest places. Or like those peculiar Dutch still life paintings of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, flesh and fruit entice us close only to reveal a spider or a rotten spot. The fable dallies with the momento mori in these Polaroids. The wasp on the chalice that seemed so alive in one image collapses to the table in the next. Or a bird’s head dangles from the shelf of a toy cupboard. It’s the essence of real play: innocence wandering into the unexpected, often dangerously close to death ... ,
Steven Brown in a text about Agafia Polynchuks POLAROIDS
Agafia Polynchuk is a Berlin-based photo artist. She was born in 1988 in Leningrad. In 2010 she bought her SX-70 camera and took her very first polaroid. She has been taking polaroids ever since.
Agafia's self-portraits visualize personal feeling and memory, but they are equally steeped in nature, classical art, and the art of the commonplace. The immediacy and intimacy of the polaroid brings these timely and timeless subjects together.
Agafia's work has been exhibited all over the world and has been featured in projects such as 12.12, Bonjourpola, Raw Beauties, Expolaroid and Poladarium. Her photographs have appeared in magazines such as Shots, Das Magazin, and others.
Agafia's latest book, Polaroids, was published by edition GALERIE VEVAIS alongside a limited selection of prints by VEVAIS KUNSTFABRIK, each numbered giclée print signed by the artist and presented in a handmade folder.
In his introduction to Polaroids, photography critic and historian John Wood writes: ''Come into these rooms with me, into Agafia's mysterious and beautifully crafted days — days like no others you have ever witnessed. Look all around ... Eden was dead ground, a stagnant garden as poisonous as Rappaccini's garden in Hawthorne's well-known short story ... For life to be vibrant it has to have some pain, some distress, some angst; otherwise how would we know we were really alive? Agascha's radiant rooms may all be ashimmer, but the shimmer may at times have an unnerving cast. Not evil, but certainly the knowledge of it."