Tank Magazine: Celrations - Alone at the Party
by Emma Latham Phillips for Tank Magazine. September 2017
Natalia Poniatowska’s unconventional event photography captures the forgotten fringes of celebrations
Every event has its secret pockets. If you turn the lens away from the smiling couple and point it towards the corners, strange and surreal moments reveal themselves. In her series Celebration, Natalia Poniatowska captures the in-between scenes at various parties: a glass lies smashed at a child’s feet, balloons drift untethered and a woman reflects in apparent isolation.
While studying photography at the Glasgow School of Art, Poniatowska undertook paid-work to help support her education. Busy photographing events, she had little time to prepare for a group exhibition. When struggling to find a suitable image, she discovered that her commercial photography had provided the grounds for fine art. Amid joyful moments or tender caresses, she had captured children lost in their own worlds, shadows engulfing empty carpets and shimmering, silent chandeliers.
“The function room corners became like empty theatre sets”, the artist explains. “But if I moved my camera just slightly, you would see a big group of people dancing or eating”. Each frame tells a story far removed from the moment. The viewer, like the children photographed, explores recesses, plays on the periphery. Seeing these eerie images without context, one would never guess that laughter was nearby.
All images © Natalia Poniatowska