LAZNIA 1 2008 - For the Likes of Us... - Joanna Biela Garrido Invisible Lives
Curators: Kevin Hunt, Rita Slater, Agnieszka Kulazińska

Anonymity is a pervasive feature of life in a big city. Every day we pass thousands of people, memorising their faces to a greater or lesser extent. People in the crowd often seem familiar. Sometimes we meet the same people every day on our way to work or school. But we know nothing about them. We are not able to describe more than a few incidental features of their face, the shape of their bag, or the colour of their winter jacket. We feel alone in the crowd. Our contacts with our neighbours are limited to a polite “Hello” exchanged on the stairways or in the lift. “Conurbation Man” is invisible. Does it mean that their lives are not important? And what about Warhol’s concept of 15 minutes of fame – the privilege of contemporary man?
The photographic project by Joanna Biela Garrido entitled Invisible Lives is an attempt to overcome this barrier. The photographs taken by the artist are portraits of ordinary people that you might see on the street, taken with a powerful telephoto lens from a long distance. What do they say about the photographed subject?
The Invisible Lives Project was presented in Łódź (Galeria Promocji Młodych) and in Gdańsk (Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej Łaźnia, under the Incubator Programme). Each of its stages is different, adapted to the local environment. Invisible Lives in Garston was divided into two parts – a dominoes game and an exhibition of tiny photographs in the Garston space.
During the artist’s study visit in Garston it turned out that dominoes used to be one of the most popular games played in English pubs, a game which is now somewhat forgotten, no longer fashionable. And in the Łódź exhibition a dominoes game was presented in which numbers have been replaced by portraits. Under her project for Garston, Biela Garrido invited local people to the game in one of the pubs. Her project was an intervention in the existing, traditional social system. In a hidden, innocent way however it posed questions about functioning of the local communities and about the place for the individual in such a community.
The interactive event in local pubs was completed by the exhibition of portraits in some selected spaces in Garston. Small pictures of human faces were distributed at the level of a walkway. The arrangement may be compared to the situation of people shown on the photographs – left on the street, invisible, unnoticeable. Going out beyond the closed gallery context was a kind of experiment. What will happen to the pictures – invisible lives? You may still see some of them on the streets of Garston. Have they been noticed?
More photographs from the Gdańsk project:

Municipal Institution of Culture