KATARZYNA MAJAK: Women of Power
7 June – 27 July 2012
7 June – 27 July 2012
Opening: Thursday, 7 June at 8 pm
Slovene Ethnographic Museum
Women of Power presents portraits of Polish witches, healers, enchanters, visionaries and spiritual leaders who are a counter to the seeming homogeneity and Catholic mainstream. Only a few traditional healers (‘whisperers’ who mix religion and primeval superstitions to heal and remove spells using prayers) survived on the Belarusian border. Others try to revive a dead tradition – from grandmothers who could ‘see’ or were herb healers. Some others say the knowledge survived in the subconscious but there is a need to learn from outer traditions (North America, Peru, or New Zealand). They mix the knowledge with local old Slavs ceremonials or demonology.
Poland is said to be more than 90% Catholic. Christianity was forcefully introduced centuries ago to have successfully erased almost all the traces of paganism, witchcraft or shamanic traditions. Basically no line of heritage survived. Children at school learn Greek, Roman, or German mythology. In the series of 29 portraits and engaging interviews Katarzyna Majak presents a counter to the seeming homogeneity by revealing the realm of those existing beyond the mainstream – witches, healers, enchanters, visionaries and spiritual leaders.
Only a few traditional healers (so called ‘whisperers’ who mix religion and primeval superstitions to heal and remove spells using prayers) survived on the Belarusian border and cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Others will try to revive a dead tradition – they may have had grandmothers who could ‘see’ or were herb healers. Some others say the knowledge survived in the subconscious but there is a need to learn from outer traditions… Thus many, left with no other choice, travel abroad – to North America, Peru, or New Zealand – to learn, come back and mix the knowledge with some local traditions – old Slavs ceremonials or demonology. Most believe pagan spirit and witchcraft somehow managed to survive in the subconscious.
This fascinating journey from a woman to a woman (the youngest in her early 30s and the oldest in her late 80s) all over the country was my search for female wisdom and plurality of spiritual paths hidden within a mono-religious society. For many of the women it was a ‘coming out’. Majak took pictures with a very low depth of field and focused on their eyes. While shooting women wore ceremonial outfits and hold their ‘objects of power’. They were asked to look directly into the lens to use photography to heal a potential viewer. They simultaneously worked with the energy transmitting it through the lens.