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2009 - in progress

Some people scour the shores in search of beautiful stones. Thierry Konarzewski patrols around his island close to Sardinia looking for unexpected encounters. As a shaman or an anthropologist he comes across throngs of improbably strange beings, shaped by the waves and winds. They are the containers’ people, an immense tribe wandering on the seas at the mercy of currents. After a long voyage like the one of the ancient Polynesians they have ended on an old rock – Enosim- where no one lived until the 17th century. This crowd of plastics mould by salt has settled there. Among this industrial society vomit rejected on the sand the photographer has seen the ocean small spirits. Is it a weakness common to those who have left the mainland? In his days Victor Hugo exiled on Guernsey Island had drawn them. He had given these gods of little nothings the name of “aucriniens”.

Those are the same small monsters (in the etymologic sense : things out of the usual course of nature), creased by currents, tossed by waves, wrapped in seaweeds, that Thierry Konarzewski watches today hidden behind a pebble or embedded in the hollow of a rock. They live peacefully in San Pietro, their eyes focused on infinity. The shaman photographer visits them on the course of his long lonely walks. They have turned into friends. “So you’re still here?” says he to one of these crushed skulled warriors expecting his visit at a creek nook. Between familiarity and ritual on goes the dialogue with these containers which are as many masks of warriors’ faces, out of the Iliad or the Mandingo Empire. These Ulysses, wrecked on the strand, worn out by their long journey back, seem to be meditating. Which sort of thoughts obsesses them? Who can tell what these hollow figures have learned from their improbable epic? It is the mind moves that the photographer as a shaman flushes out in his pictures.

So who is this photographer? A shaman, an anthropologist or the priest of a new cult of rejects in which he gives to see shapes, ghosts or fantasies? Or is he a detective of this new age materialism who as an herbalist gathers plants, picks up, classifies and names containers in a vast directory of nonsense? Neurophysiology progresses have confirmed the existence of two distinct parts in man’s brain. One is specialized into the recognition of words the other in the recognition of faces. This last one can summon real apparitions in front of those who have the power to see faces hidden inside things. Renaissance painters hid them into landscapes. Things –trees above all- were for some illustrators like Segantini or Rackham the unlimited home of many faces. With Thierry Konarzewski a new world of faces comes to light and they are a wonderfully expressive tribe.


Anyway, one is either free to believe in these apparitions or only in what one sees: the shimmer of material or the twinkling of things. But this double posture which inhabits Thierry Konarzewski’s pictures questions our relationship with pictures. What do we see? Are we actually seeing what we are looking at? Or are we seeing something else?

Thierry Grillet - Essayist

Waste has a soul and a perilous beauty. It will survive when we fall.

I have always had a weakness for used or damaged goods and a real fascination for the marks, the stigmata left by the passage of time.
What we call garbage has its own discrete and particular magic. Cans and plastic containers, everyday objects of no value, are treated as such by man and cast, lazily, unconsciously, without a backward glance, into the sea. Their journey through the waves is a heroic one. Tossed and shaken, impregnated with salt and heavy oil, all kinds of marine life clinging to their folds, bent, spindled, torn, exhausted, they fetch up on our coasts as filthy, inert flotsam. The untouchable. But through the subtle alchemy of their journey something unexpected has come to pass. They have become transformed into seafarers, wanderers, knights errant.
For the last five years, I myself have wandered and clambered around the coves and creeks of the Ile of San Pietro. Winter and summer I have met these castaways and they have told me their story. I have photographed the sliver of their soul. Useless containers held now in my frame, I have met here a real humanity, nobility, emotions of sadness and rage. This strange folk have brought me into the presence of deep, ancient, timeless time.
Of course they remain pieces of plastic, empty containers which clutter nature but whose meeting place and time I have faithfully recorded. They are the fruit of our actions, the mirror of our civilization as well as its memory, for they will survive us. 


Thierry Konarzewski
San Pietro Island - October 2012

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