BTS Shots. Wajda

07.03.2023 - 02.04.2023

Opening: 06.03.2023, 18.00

Exhibition idea: Krystyna Zachwatowicz-Wajda Coordination and design: Aleksandra Sikora Visual identity: Sławek Bit
Behind the scenes photography (BTS) captures certain situations in the process of making a motion picture, in a documentary manner. Working on the sets of Andrzej Wajda’s films, Renata Pajchel immortalized what was going on outside the cinematic camera’s field of vision. She documented the ongoing work of the director and the film crew. Sometimes confused with movie stills, BTS shots differ from them primarily in the way they frame reality, as they do not seek to emulate a cinematic take or the position of the rolling camera but rather record all the other activities that go into preparing and shooting takes. In the world of photography, BTS is equivalent to what would today be referred to as ‘making-of’ in documentary filmmaking.

The exhibition shows 51 photographs by Renata Pajchel, depicting the director at work on his films. In this artist’s photos, Andrzej Wajda becomes the main protagonist of her narrative, and what comes to the fore are his gestures, poses, and facial expressions. Some of the shots, which are somewhat more intimate, capture moments of profound concentration and involvement; some are testimony to both artists’ sense of humour. Renata Pajchel’s BTS photographs reveal a full range of Wajda’s emotions and help us understand how he worked. The poetics of most images is based on two coexisting components: the repertoire of the director’s gestures and – to reach for Henri Cartier-Bresson’s concept – ‘decisive moments’. With sensitivity and precision, Pajchel managed to capture one-off situations, which would have been impossible to retake, to use another cinematic term. In this way, her photographs come to complement the director’s creative endeavour and become an epilogue to each of his masterpieces that she worked on.

The first version of this exhibition was shown in 2019 at the Łódź Photographic Society’s (ŁTF) Gallery of Photography. The photographs (except for one) were selected by the artist herself. The show at the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology is another take on the project, prepared on the initiative of Krystyna Zachwatowicz-Wajda. The date chosen for the opening, 6 March, is far from random as it marks the 97th anniversary of Andrzej Wajda’s birth.

Renata Pajchel (1942–2020) graduated from the Łódź Film School with a degree in cinematography. She worked on the sets of major Polish film directors, notably Krzysztof Zanussi, Andrzej Żuławski, Janusz Morgenstern, Agnieszka Holland, and Witold Adamek. Her collaborations with Andrzej Wajda spanned nearly three decades, Everything for Sale (1968) being the first movie in his career that she recorded in her documentary photography. After that, she took both stills and BTS shots on the sets of Hunting Flies, Landscape After the Battle, The Birch Wood, The Wedding, The Promised Land, The Shadow Line, The Man of Marble, Without Anaesthesia, November Night, The Maids of Wilko, The Conductor, The Man of Iron, Danton, Chronicle of Amorous Accidents, The Possessed, Korczak, and The Crowned-Eagle Ring. Renata Pajchel’s work won appreciation for the profession of the film-set photographer in Poland and elevated it to the rank of art.

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