Recently, I had a discussion with a friend of mine about how much the art market is saturated, how much imagery we are fed daily, and what kind of discarding culture we live in. Everything is directed outwards, to be consumed and pushed right in front of your face. At the end of the day, you walk out of art shows completely overwhelmed, not being able to recall a single artwork as it was simply too many of them out there. It is this constant going forward that we are experiencing; there is no looking back, no space to breathe. It all has to be pretty and entertaining. We are fed dopamine bonbons every single day and we all pretend that we are not exhausted from it…
In alignment with this discussion, I have received a book from Maria Dabrowski (b. 1988, the Netherlands) who exactly comments on this fast-paced idea of perception and experience of time nowadays. In this technologically and profit-driven consumer culture, our inner selves seem to be highly destabilized when looking at the mental health statistics where the numbers of people with depression and anxiety disorders have reached their peak. Her book SYNC instead proposes an alternative to this accelerated rhythm we are all currently facing. She invites us to introspect, to find moments to zoom out, and especially time for ourselves. The idea of a balanced mindset and a sense of shared responsibility almost seems too abstract in the current climate…
Would introspection then make us redundant for the rest of society? What even is the meaning of our existence when we think we contribute to a system yet actually continually keep destroying environments, vulnerable minorities, and predominantly ourselves? This is the bigger picture but once in a while, it’s pleasing also to think small.
In SYNC, photographs are hidden behind flaps and are printed on highly matt paper. They have pastel colors, yet are dark and grainy at the same time. Often, they show traces of human presence in either exteriors or interiors. There are also images of close-ups of eyes, showing people in contemplative states, looking outside of the frame. Through thoughtful design, it indeed feels that we have entered an alternative time zone in SYNC, the one where time flows slower and there is no outside pressure of having the urge to accelerate. It’s a zone of looking inward, both physically by searching for the hidden images in the book and metaphorically, within our psyches.
Apart from this impression of entering a frozen time, the atmosphere is also set by the light conditions of the images. Almost all of them seem to be shot during dusk, the time of day immediately following sunset. It is this in-betweenness of light and darkness that we suddenly enter, the sense of time is obscured as well as the atmosphere of the book is stretched for the whole “duration” when immersed in it. After sunset, it usually takes between 70-100 minutes before we enter the night which is a relatively short window. However, through her book, Dabrowski made this introspective window available permanently and with flexible durations, depending on the viewer’s engagement with the object.
Dabrowski calls for this urgently needed synchronization of our energetic cores, showing us that it is okay to take a step back and get lost in our thoughts for a moment. Her book reminded me of Friedrich Nietzsche’s quote from one of his Unfashionable Thoughts volumes: “Healthy introspection, without undermining oneself; it is a rare gift to venture into the unexplored depths of the self, without delusions or fictions, but with an uncorrupted gaze.” Her book provides us exactly with this gift, allowing us to slowly browse the pages without a sense of guilt. How refreshing after this numbing over-stimulation everywhere in the outside world.
born in 1988 in the Netherlands, is a Dutch photographer of predominantly long-term (documentary) projects, both at home and around the world. Dabrowski’s research and photographic work in which (cultural) identity serves as a foundation, result into personal works in which feelings of displacement are predominant. Dabrowski’s analogue photographs are poetic, symbolic, and contemplative. They contain a certain tension behind the initially inconspicuous image of everyday life.
Since 2015 Lecturis is a publisher with three imprints: Lecturis, DATO, and Citrus. Books by Lecturis have a focus on art, (graphic) design, and photography. Lecturis was founded in 1922 as a publishing company. In 1940, printing became its primary activity and in 2010 Lecturis began publishing books again. Books about art, design, photography and cultural history with outstanding quality in design, printing, and finishing.