The Polish photographer Łukasz Rusznica presents, at Festival Circulation(s), Subterranean River, a mysterious journey in the Japanese flora and fauna, influenced by Shinto beliefs.

Photographer and curator, Łukas Rusznica is based in Wroclaw, in Poland, where he runs an art gallery. Inspired by books, the artist creates his series by imagining them on the pages of a book. A long and meticulous process he considers “awfully romantic”. “Mistakes and dead ends are my work companions. The process is crucial and requires time. But devoting time to something brings tangible results., he says. Fascinated by the image, Łukasz Rusznica had wanted to become a film director for a long time. It was while he was studying cinema that he discovered the 8th art. “I had to take some photographs for my portfolio. In the end, I realised that film is a team game, and for this reason might not be for me, whereas the solitude of a photographer suits me very well, he recalls.

In 2016, the photographer is accepted at the artist residency European Eyes on Japan and flies to the Land of the Rising Sun. “I began by studying pure visuality of Japanese graphics. I was feeding my eyes with these images and slowly building my own imaginarium, Łukasz Rusznica retells. After returning to Poland, he put his images on the side for a year in order to detach himself from the memories and events they convey. A necessary process for the artist. “I rework my experience and as a result I discover processes, meaning, things I want to say — about my work and about myself — that I had not been aware of , he explains.

Elusiveness and immortality

In Subterranean River, Łukasz Rusznica constructs a metaphorical, dark and mysterious world. Inspired by Shintoism (a set of ancient beliefs that recognize the sacred character of nature) and Japanese folklore, the photographer uses ancestral symbols to represent the human complexity. “I ‘use’ those symbols and narrations to talk about what is elusive and internal, the moisture and darkness in ourselves, the hormonal singing of the body, the blood, the nature.” A wild and sensual story, questioning the divine character of the environment. The color red reappears often in the artist’s images, evoking a certain passion, but also life, flowing through each living being. A way to reconnect species to one another. Nature is your home, it is you. The way we damage it is not something external, we destroy ourselves. Through these images, I appeal to very simple concepts: empathy and compassion”, the author states.

As part of the Festival Circulation(s), Subterranean River catches the eye. The crimson images, taking the form of a wallpaper, carry softer pictures. “Even when the visitors do not look at my installation, they catch a glimpse of a strange red movement when walking around the room. An experience that activates their eye, and consequently moves them inside my universe”, the photographer tells us. Calm, enchanting and disturbing, those pictures capture a powerful wilderness. A deity sheltering in its core its different children: plants, animals and human beings. A beautiful tribute to the Japanese scenery.

© Łukasz Rusznica