Zofia Rydet (1911–1997), creator of the iconic Sociological Record and the fantastic World of Feelings and Imagination, was an artist gifted with a sense for observing the entropy of the world around her. This exceptional photographic perspective is revealed in all its power in the series Endlessly Distant Roads, executed in 1980. In the exhibition at Raster, we present a selection of 40 photographs from this unusual and rarely shown collection.
The artist described it as “a metaphorical story about life and roads” and added the structure of a quasi-conceptual typology in which images of empty roads, road signs and crosses were juxtaposed. Despite the universalist concept, the specific photographs have an individual character, and the whole, apart from the symbolic meaning, can also be read as an original narrative about the Polish landscape. The artist focuses on telling details—tawdry roadside and cemetery crosses with cast crucifixes, ruts in dirt roads, and cracks in asphalt surfaces. The overwhelming materiality of these inalienable elements of the everyday landscape underlines the metaphysical meanings inscribed in them. The critic Jerzy Busza described the space depicted by the artist as “incredibly abstract and tangibly concrete, metaphysical and real.” Disclosing the trajectories of human destinies from remnants of local material culture was a special feature of Rydet’s photographic practice. Her photos, poignantly simple, sometimes even raw, are also dense with details and textures. What at first comes across as poverty also conveys surprising diversity and richness. The semiotic landscape created by Rydet stunningly combines different orders of photographic observation: typological documentation and creative photography. The artist often subjected the images recorded on the negative to further processing using the solarization technique, which imparted an unreality to the shots and gave them a cosmic aura. In this specific microcosm, played out in greyscale, in the artist’s words, “Only one direction of movement, towards death, is certain.”