“What are you looking for?”
“The stalls resemble altars; one does not know whether the animal entrails, dead fish and octopuses, the severed heads of birds and camels are a sacrifice or food to be bought after all.”
Marika Kuźmicz, “Anima”, introduction to the book “Anima. Images from Africa” , Piekary Gallery 2013
“Octopuses like entrails torn out of colossal belly, crumpled and pallid, skinned bodies, animal carcasses, and the decapitated head of a camel, its eyes half-closed, as if in a serene dream, and only the bloody tear remind one that it is no picture of repose but a head at the butcher’s. Besides, the severed heads are plentiful, as are the bodies consigned for consumption, and others collected for mystical purposes; the land of the spirit, Anima, is a land of cadavers. What are all those bodies for, whole and in pieces? The meat trade is understandable, nothing cryptic about it (apart from the mystery of communing with something that was a body, a house); but why the heads of birds, why the dried bat, the monkey heads and long spines, why the crocodile heads and the threadbare pelts, what for, who gathers it all?
(…) a grand fair of the now useless bodies, spreads its stalls before the viewer: buy what you will, it encourages, some trinket perhaps; but whatever you buy, it is going to be death. ”
Wojciech Nowicki, “Decay of the body, luxuriance of the soul”, introduction to the book “Anima. Images from Africa”, Piekary Gallery 2013
The cycle is a personal story about a journey. The images, which make up a cycle, show reality from the perspective of a Traveler, who, by penetrating the strange and incomprehensible world of Africa, tries to uncover universal truths about life, death, rebirth and transformation.
The attempt to enter the invisible dimension of spirituality and immortality occurs through an exploration of images of emptiness and abandoned, neglected and ruined sites interwoven with shots of organic structures, decaying animal matter and objects of a sacred nature. “This documentation of decay and death is also an exploration of magical practices in which death is inseparably intertwined with life (…) Death is not any end, nor a breach, it is natural element of life. It's just that life here is not regarded as something assigned to individuals, but as Zoe – an impersonal or rather inhuman force."- wrote Izabela Kowalczyk.
Although the series is the result of the author's fascination with original beliefs, spirituality, rituals, and worship of nature, it does not have an ethnographic aspect. The places captured in the images cannot be specifically identified, which serves to emphasize the superiority of ideas over reality, because, as noted by Wojciech Nowicki “[…]in the Anima series, photography is something else still, a material, a building block, clay, a medium borrowed for purposes going beyond documentation. The authoress, quite offhandedly, departs from the natural sequence of events, opting for her own sequence instead – because Anima is a photography-based architecture of a memory, a memory of events that had never been. The images are like blocks. In the hands of the artist (narrator) the assembly kit may yield a castle, a road, a person or a soul. Anima encourages, compels one to seek, but does not promise that the path will be a straightforward one. And, as it happens with mature images, there are more possibilities here than one would given that chance.“
The pictures were taken between 2005 and 2013 during numerous trips by Magda Hueckel and Tomasz Śliwiński to Africa (spanning such countries as Algeria, Benin, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Morocco, Republic of South Africa, Rwanda, Senegal, Swaziland, Tanzania and Uganda).
Number of works: over 100
Sizes: 115 x 76 cm, 75 x 50 cm, 45 x 30 cm
Technique: B&W photography, pigment prints at archival paper Hahnemühle Museum Etching 350 g