Searching for the First Memory

Recording his contemporary surroundings, Polish photographer Maciej Czepiel looks to build his own personal truth by turning his earliest childhood memories and stories told by his family into visual recollections.


I was born in 1987 in Krakow, Poland. At the time, the Berlin Wall was still standing. My parents wanted to escape what they didn’t know would be the last traces of communism left in the country. We first fled to a refugee camp in Germany for about a year before moving to Canada for seven years. Our final destination was Switzerland, where I still live today. If I Could Only Remember is a voyage through my earliest childhood memories between the ages of zero and three.

It all begins with my very first memory, which strangely enough coincides with the last day my parents and I spent at our refugee camp in Germany, just before flying to Canada. The memory consists of me sitting on the edge of a Jacuzzi looking at my mother who’s wrapping me in a big towel. Through this project, I'm retracing the memories I've experienced but also those my mind created with the stories I’ve been told by my parents and relatives.

I’ve tried to represent everything as in a dream, or maybe as a blurred memory. Some aspects of my work are anchored in the real world but are represented as dreams. I’m alternating between the two worlds as if I were confused about what is the truth and what is a representation I’ve led myself to believe was true. With these images, I want to show the viewer that I'm looking for some sort of an answer, that I'm trying to recreate something. Maybe I’m trying to recreate a truth. This is all a reflection based on my blurred memories that I am trying to rediscover: to put a fresh image on.

Words and Pictures by Maciej Czepiel.







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Born in Krakow in 1987, Maciej Czepiel now lives in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. After doing a Propedeutique Diploma at Ecole Cantoynale d’Art de Lausanne, ECAL, he finished his studies in photography at CEPV, in Vevey, Switzerland.

Follow Maciej on PHmuseum and Instagram.

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This feature is part of Story of the Week, a selection of relevant projects from our community handpicked by the PHmuseum curators.

PHM 2018 Women Photographers Grant
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