Review by Gerhard Clausing •
A friendship that can be traced back to our youth and has lasted into the present is something to be treasured and celebrated, if we are lucky enough to have such close ties to another person. Solarski and Liboska can share recollections that go back 30 years, to their early years in rural Poland. They have created this delightful photobook to allow us to share the surroundings and special moments from years that were marked by seemingly carefree and audacious abandon.
Such a project requires a bold assessment of many situations that were encountered – environmental, generational, and social challenges to be faced as well as to be overcome as time went by. This photobook contains well-imagined situational photographs of local scenes and activities, such as hikes and swimming, relationships with others, and moments of confrontation with members of the older generation. The viewer can make a myriad of discoveries by contemplating this visual narrative.
As we study the images included, we not only get an excellent visual sense of the lushness of the Polish countryside, we also get many impressions that evoke memories of our own – friends with whom we did things long ago that we may have lost touch with, and wish we hadn’t; the freshness and joy of early relationships that later seemed trivial but that were more joyful than we imagined at the time; the feelings of being invincible and perhaps even immortal, which later had to be replaced by more realistic assessments.
A closer look at many of the images also lets us discover elements that subtly hint at surrounding environmetal, cultural, and social contexts: there is some evidence of farm activity nearby, we see bits of evidence of religion, there is the intrusion of winter and ways of trying to keep warm, there are jobs and adulthood looming on the horizon of the boys’ bucolic paradise … also such experiences as occasional hurtful disagreements with another fellow, or an argument with a girl. The intensity of one’s early life may later become the object of wistful nostalgia and melancholy.
Such a shared coming-of-age story, presented in a set of well-executed visuals, printed in generously large sizes, also needs a spirited text. Liboska’s short essay is full of zest and spunk, kind of in the style of Jack Kerouac in Robert Frank’s The Americans. When the hair is cut short, the seriousness of adulthood looms large. Well expressed and visualized!
Gerhard Clausing, Associate Editor of the PhotoBook Journal, is an author and photographer from Southern California.
Michal Solarski & Tomasz Liboska – Cut It Short
Photographer: Michal Solarski (born in Poland, lives in London)
Co-Author and Text: Tomasz Liboska (born in Poland, lives in Chorzow in Upper Silesia, Poland)
Publisher: Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany; © 2021
Hardcover, illustrated; 80 pages, unpaginated, with 37 color photographs; 8 x 10.5 inches (20.5 x 26.5 cm); printed and bound in Germany; ISBN 978-3-96900-054-0
Design: Kehrer Design (Studio Victor Balko)
Articles and photographs published in the PhotoBook Journal may not be reproduced without the permission of the PhotoBook Journal staff and the photographer(s).