Jakub Stanek, In Anticipation of the Sun
Curator: Mateusz Sarełło
Something stopped us that day. Even now, I don’t know exactly what it was.
It all began at an unnaturally early hour. For me at least. Kajtek is an old hand at spooning down porridge at 5:30 in the morning. Outside the window, Egyptian darkness. We were waiting for the sun. In winter, it sleeps in, rolls out of bed hours after Kajtek, who was already sitting astride his sled in the hallway. I opened the window, encouraging the caffeine to circulate through my veins. Chest pain hit with the first inhalation. Asthma was up, too. Smell of chimneys burning.
It wasn’t smoke rising from the familiar shapes in the yard, not exactly. It was a fog, dense as the dead of night. A violent act perpetrated against a pinned-down sun. I rubbed my bleary eyes. Called to Kajtek. Nose squished to the windowpane, eyes open wide, his mouth forming the question of the day: ‘Dad, what’s that?’ Through a mental mist, an answer emerged from a geography lesson of yore. ‘Clouds on Earth, son!’
Something stopped us that day. Alert! Alarm! Smog! So we took off our hats and one-piece snowsuits, disappointedly stowed the sled.
I closed the window. The smog transmogrified into a baleful dragon, writhing in the skies above the city. Kajtek had already armed himself with sword and shield. I, too, believed we could defend ourselves. I answered questions. I wove a tale, of verbs and adjectives, with exclamation points! Kajtek covered a sheet of paper as white as snow with grey and black graphite. We spun the globe, seeking to pinpoint the dragon’s lair. Brush-stroked Chinese characters appeared before my mind’s eye. Cough.
I cannot speak. I cannot write. But I can look. I can show. The idea expelled itself from me like a cough. Biological, organic. An unconditional reflex of a concept. I owe it to my son. To you, too. And to the planet. To exhibit smog to the world. To expose its nebulous face.
Something stopped us that day. We were held motionless, in anticipation of the sun.
Jakub Stanek (born 1988, Warsaw, Poland) studies at the Institute of Creative Photography in Opava (Czech Republic). He is a graduate of the Sputnik Photos collective’s Mentoring Programme. For many years he was based in Milan, where he worked on documentary and commercial projects. He was selected as a DEBUTS 2015 (portfolio contest) emerging artist, a distinction given to participants whose portfolios earned the jury’s highest possible mark. In his documentary projects, he carries on an intimate dialogue with his protagonists while visually elaborating on the narrative structure of storytelling.