Polish born portrait photographer and graphic designer Sylwia Kowalczyk, who resides in Edinburgh Scotland, creates hauntingly beautiful work using mixed media. Her series titled Lethe which deals with the subject of memory, has gathered much deserved attention and won the ‘Personal’ category in PDN Photo Annual 2016 and is now shortlisted for The Renaissance Photography Prize. The work is build of various material that she rips, cuts and tears and places on top of each other. By decomposing photographs and combining them with paper and drawings creates surreal images – a collection of memories – real and imagined.
Lethe is the river that cleanses Dante in Purgatory, the one that wipes memories of the dead as they drink from it or bathe in it. The poet Sylvia Plath steps up from ‘the black car of Lethe, Pure as a baby’. It is an escape, a relief from our own physical limitations. ‘The soul that has been rash enough to drink from the fount of Lethe… is reincarnated and again cast into the cycle of becoming’, according to Mircea Eliade.