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Courtesy of 

Michalina Kacperak

Ann Lesley BarTur Award

Michalina Kacperak

National Film School in Łódź


Michalina Kacperak is a Polish photographer whose artistic practice engages both documentary and fine arts. Focusing on storytelling, she applies many imaging techniques, from digital photography through analogue photography to collages and using archives. The most important part of her work is devoted to personal, complex stories which bring up the themes related to childhood, memory, social exclusion and identity in the broad sense. In 2022 laureate of the 12th edition of Circulation(s) festival in Paris. Her work have been exhibited at the Interphoto Festival in Bialystok (2021), Photomonth in Krakow (2022), Frames of Sopot Festival (2022) and Titanikas Exhibition Halls in Vilnius (2022). Her project "Soft spot" has been published in OVER Journal issue #3 (2022).

Soft Spot

Strzelce Opolskie, Poland

2020 - 2022

I come from a small town in southern Poland. I’m the oldest of four sisters. The youngest of them was born when I was 16. Since then, I’ve been fascinated by her imagination, courage, and self-acceptance. I can’t remember the moment when I lost these traits, yet I’m sure I was already lacking in them when I was her age.

We are the daughters of an alcoholic father. Our childhood has been a constant struggle with loneliness, destabilization, lack of closeness and an everlasting sense of guilt. A dysfunctional home is a place full of contradictions. You feel a strong tie with it, which limits your actions later in life. When you leave, it’s still inside you. When you come back, you dream about running away. But you can’t when you’re 11. A safe place for a child is often their imagination. For my sister, her own room means the whole world. There’s everything – from the good things to the bad ones. Pleasant and painful. She has cast a spell on it. Nothing here is fake. There are some places where fantasy and having fun serve as a form of survival, charming the reality, sketching in what’s absent.

Soft spot is a set of photographs based on the room of my youngest sister. The project combines the pictures that document the room itself, the images of my compositions, and portraits of my sister and our father. All of the photographs show the same space – a child’s room. The setting is essential here – old furniture, drawings on the walls, used toys etc., that form the “original” home base, a “natural habitat” for the child. The transformed setting is an interpretation of reality in which my sister lives as well as a metaphorical visualization of my childhood memories and emotions.

Soft spot is a story about leaving a place which is both your only shelter and your prison at the same time. I’m observing a certain phase in life in which a girl stops being a child. Soon the walls will be painted over, yet all of the lines and the marks will be remembered forever. This story is not only about the past hard experiences. It’s about dealing with your own fears and weaknesses, but also about forgiveness and fighting for healing.

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