Atlas was supposedly a Titan who held up the sky on his back. Others perceived him as the first astronomer, and somebody even named one of Saturn’s moons after him. There are as many associations and tropes – both earthly and celestial – as there are forgotten islands, undiscovered or rediscovered anew, each time in a different way, depending on the onlooker; as there are lands that have been described and catalogued, only to be included in an atlas of a different kind.
Natalia Mikołajczuk’s atlas is a cosmic one. Perhaps it is situated in north-western Africa, perhaps not. We can only guess how the depicted objects could be used. The formally simple photographs tempt us to pose questions about what remains invisible. Are the histories from outside the frame equally mysterious and unknown?
Mikołajczuk’s photographs visually document a moment in the life of a place. I do not know where it is, or even if it belongs in this world. Abandoned objects, artefacts, rocks, natural sculptures – traces left by human (?) presence. A perfect setting for a midnight story about loneliness. A moonlike landscape, devoid of people, just after they have left or perhaps a moment before their arrival? Some will find this emptiness unsettling while to others it may bring a state of concentration and relief: “Finally I’m here and now!”
Natalia Mikołajczuk was born and grew up in Podlasie. She graduated from the Secondary School of Art in Supraśl and the Faculty of Graphic Arts of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, where she did one of her first project entitled “Garden Dream” as her diploma thesis. She currently studies at the Institute of Creative Photography in Opava. She also completed the 7th edition of the “Snapshots” programme of the “ę” Association for Creative Initiatives (2015) and the Polis(h) Photo Lab project (2016).
Her works revolve around the issue of human relationship with nature. She is interested in traces left by us in space, and what this space tells about us. She usually contains her cycles in the form of a publication / photobook because it enables her to tell the stories not only with images.