From the Sociological Record cycle. Myth of Photography (Raba Wyżna), 1978-1990, gelatin silver hand print, ca. 24 x 30 cm
Zofia Rydet’s never-finished magnum opus is Sociological Record, which she worked on from 1978 to the end of her life. In this project, she took thousands and thousands of black-and-white negatives, only a portion of which were processed by the artist into prints. The scheme of Sociological Record is an interior family portrait, shot in a characteristic manner with the members of the household against the background of their principal living space, taken almost suddenly, using flash. Rydet was particularly interested in meeting with the elderly, and documenting the disappearing wooden rural architecture, which, the title notwithstanding, imparted to the work more of an existential character of vanitas than of sociology. Sociological Record is also a compulsive, obsessive work, as the artist’s concept was to document all regions of the country, and as the work progressed she split parts of it into sub-series such as Women on Doorsteps, The Myth of Photography, and Presence (devoted to images of Pope John Paul II in Polish homes). In its entirety, Sociological Record is not just an original work of art, but also an unparalleled repository of the material and visual culture of post-war Poland, contrasting with the official propaganda of that time.
From the Sociological Record cycle (Suwalskie), 1980, gelatin silver hand print, 24 x 30 cm
From the Sociological Record cycle (Poddubówek), 1980, gelatin silver hand print, 24 x 30 cm
From the Sociological Record cycle (Konieczkowa), 1980, gelatin silver hand print, 24 x 30 cm
From the Sociological Record cycle. Myth of Photography (Kieleckie), 1985, gelatin silver hand print, 24 x 30 cm