Jurek, Ela (from the series Under the skin)
Maciej Pisuk's passion for photography emerged during a personal crisis that saw him unemployed and lived in Warsaw’s Praga district. At that time, he began to create a series of photographs Under the Skin (2007—2010) which was a record of his close relations with his neighbours. He depicts them in private situations, telling stories of individual people. The artist’s intention was to avoid stigmatizing them, despite showing poverty and difficult living conditions.
Jurek and Ela, presented in black and white photographs, live on the top floor of a tenement house devoid of toilets and heating. Jurek and Ela lived together and helped each other. The photos aren’t staged; instead, Pisuk observed their life and captured certain situations. On one of them Ela – a good Samaritan helping everyone around her – wipes a tear from the side of her face, mourning the death of one of her charges. In the summer heat, the now deceased Jurek, an alcoholic, lies half-naked across a bed.
The artist distances himself from highly paid photographers whose work dazzles with suffering, who choose particularly dramatic shots. While photographing the residents of Brzeska Street, Pisuk became a part of this community. He shared his fees and often helped them. As Pisuk said himself, the aim of publishing the photographs was sensitizing others to the problems of this community, drawing attention to their living conditions and, above all, showing them to be people who do not deserve hostility or dislike.