Slawomir Elsner

Virtual Existence

An excellent class photo. The pupils and teachers are in good spirits, as should be expected when everyone assembles for a photograph. And the snapshot taken at the police office is also great, a nice memento of the colleagues at the precinct. The clothes make the man – and so does the context.

Slawomir Elsner places himself in different environments and settings, each time choosing the suitable clothing-cum-disguise: as a teacher, a policeman, a swimming-pool attendant, a funeral parlor manager, a cabdriver and so on. “How do I appear to others? And what sort of people are they, the people I meet during an average day?” he may have asked himself. Hard to say, at any rate the answer is not readily apparent, as the people seem interchangeable, seem to be able to don different existences. Or so the answer intimated by the series he has entitled “Slawomir”.

On his “Wedding photos” almost everything is authentic, too, yet the total sum of the differences amounts to deception. The family really does exist, it is Slawomir Elsner’s own family. The bride and groom really were getting married at that moment. Even the aesthetics is right: Elsner had the shots taken by a photographer who is a specialist in photographing family celebrations. However, the bride and groom have nothing to do with his family whatsoever: His relatives simply function as the right backdrop for the occasion.

Slawomir Elsner enjoys playing with the possibilities open to each and every person. And at the same time those afforded by the medium: his oeuvre is made up of what seem to be authentic everyday photos as long as you look at them individually – only as a series do they reveal a new dimension behind the quotidien.

Biographical information

1976

born in Wodzislaw, Poland

1995–2002

studied Liberal Arts at the Kunsthochschule Kassel

lives and works in Berlin