Searching for a New Life in the Wild
Polish photographer Mateusz Kowalik explores the desire to change, the will to feel at home in a new and primitive environment, and the physical and psychological demands that are required for such a shift in daily life.
Once tuberculosis was referred to as a dry-air disease or simply the romantic disease that afflicted the greatest artistic souls. Today, nothing dries the skin like an air conditioner in an office in a high-rise building scraping the sky. Or the confined spaces of a shopping mall populated with colourful dreams. Or a brand new car on a never-ending road to work.
So, are we talking about searching for a remedy and a therapy, or maybe trying to break free from the death of the soul, which decays progressively, like the lungs of a consumptive? Is the unique climate of Góry Suche (polish for Dry Mountains) a destination itself or is it only a stop on the way to somewhere else, a more distant port of call?
There’s the clean, fresh air of the local micro-climate. The sound of crickets keeps the starry sky company. Herbs from the backyard garden drying over the fireplace. And those endless repairs of the local road that keep getting destroyed by sudden downpours. Lifelong friendships with kindred spirits and even stronger dramas. Lack of peers in the neighbourhood for a growing boy and even an acute lack of work that reflects in real changes in the bank account.
Even if you take a gulp of air, you still might end up panting for breath.
This is a story about the need to abandon the current life and searching for one's place again. About adapting to a new environment and giving it a new identity. Of the overriding need to live close to nature. And about the high price to pay that comes with this choice.
Words and Pictures by Mateusz Kowalik.
Mateusz Kowalik is a documentary photographer focused on long-term projects. In his works, at times rooted in his own experience, he explores the issues of contemporary society. He graduated from Sputnik Photos Mentoring Program and is currently a student of the Institute of Creative Photography at University of Opava, Czech Republic. Find him on PHmuseum and Instagram.
This feature is part of Story of the Week, a selection of relevant projects from our community handpicked by the PHmuseum curators.