Photographer of the Week #165: Zuza Krajewska

Zuza Krajewska is a photographer and filmmaker currently based in Warsaw. Her work is characterized by her socially engaging subject matter and her determination in capturing the entirety of an obscured narrative through one single image. Her latest series from Studzieniec juvenile detention centre – Imago – was recently featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions i.e. Raster Gallery and Annroy Gallery at Photo London.

“Imago is an entomological term. As the definition says: “imago (Lat.) is an adult insect, perfect, the final stage of the development of the species.”

Insects in the imago stage, grasshoppers, beetles, flies, look adult but are smaller. All of their organs, including the sex organs are fully shaped but the young insects don’t use all of the functions of their bodies.”

Krajewska’s portrait series “Imago” provides a private glimpse into the lives of a small group of Polish youth, clumsily navigating outside the threshold of boyhood and transforming according to their own understanding of maturity. The young men, all residing in government juvenile detention, restlessly await their eminent transition into civilian life. Krajewska’s work hones into the implication of this zoological metaphor, focusing our attention on this specific instance of performative masculinity, the nebulous transition into manhood interpreted through the eye of interrupted youth. This “final stage” of development for these young men, within institutional parameters of behavioral adjustment, results in poetic moments of camaraderie, intimacy, and vulnerability, all amidst the carefully constructed semblance of virility.

The smooth faces without hair sometime show the waggish smile of the class brawler, another time a grin of pursed lips revealing a ruthless obstinacy. The eyes of a boy in one photo sparkle with enthusiasm and lively optimism, from another image a teenager looks at us, his eyes telling us that “he has already seen everything”. 

For more of Zuza Krajewska’s work check out her site: