In rural Poland, a mother cuts her own path

22 February 2019
Text: Liza Premiyak
Image: Karol Palka

Quietness has an arresting quality. This is especially true of portraiture, where subtle expressions speak louder than pouts and grimaces. It takes skill and patience to bring an individual’s quietness to the fore and give it power. From Diane Arbus to Alec Soth and Deana Lawson, there have been many renowned photographers who have dedicated their careers to documenting those usually silenced by society.

The last time we featured Polish photographer Karol Palka, his photos were of vacant rooms and quiet corridors where you could almost hear the footsteps of Communist Party leaders that once stalked them. The context of this photo couldn’t be more different, but the silence is just as palpable. The woman pictured, Danusia, lives 120 km northwest of Warsaw in a village populated by no more than 50 people. As Palka describes it, she and her daughter Basia are “cut off from the world”. He has been visiting Danusia for the last three years; she is the subject of an ongoing photo story entitled Specially For You that is yet to be published by the photographer. “The mother has always tried to protect her daughter from the outside world. Now she has decided to help her adapt to it,” Palka reveals of his protagonist.

Palka’s Instagram gives more insight into Danusia, her home, and her lifestyle. The simple composition in this particular photograph only adds to the depth of character. The world around her is obscure but not impenetrable, and the photographer invites us right in.

Read more

In rural Poland, a mother cuts her own path

Waning crescent: meet the Polish-Muslim community settled in the heart of Europe

In rural Poland, a mother cuts her own path

Karol Palka: walk the corridors of power in these faded communist-era hotels

In rural Poland, a mother cuts her own path

‘Some kind of awakening’: Why 200,000 Polish feminists are only getting stronger