Elzbieta “Ela” Zdunek is a Polish photographer and collagist based in Helsinki, Finland. While art has always been present in her life, it was the pandemic and the lockdown when collaging became her main form of expression. Collaging is like life. What we encounter is not always of our choice, people, events, shapes; it is up to us to decide how do we combine and interpret those elements. Collaging is taking and reclaiming agency, telling a story instead of allowing it to be told.
Ela’s works focus on humanity and personality. The mannequins, so scarily human and devoid of humanity at the same time, they’re portrayed in the moment of change, the moment when the reality happens and comes to live. The style resembling movies from the silent era indicates how patterns and history repeat, and yet we keep on being surprised with the local and global events. Ela likes to think that we are again in the roaring twenties, equally tired, broken, and full of hope as hundred years ago.
Ela’s works has been printed in art magazines in the UK and exhibited in various galleries across USA and in Europe. The achievement she is especially proud of is the Spring 2021 NYC ArtWalk. Art should interact with public!
“I speak two artistic languages; each expresses my different wants and needs. Photography is about capturing the moment. I love portraying the moment of change, when suddenly nothing is as it was before. Therefore, my photography language is usually shadow and reflection. Often, it is not about the object as such but about how it is perceived. I am looking for the hidden surreal.
While photography allows me to catch the surrealism that already exists if we only look, collages are a tool to tell my own story. And even more than once, I may reuse repeating elements many times and always come with a new outcome, solution or turn of events. I like saying that collages are a bit like life; it is not always up to us what happens, what kind of people or events we encounter, but we do have relative liberty in what role do we allow them to play. Collages are a visual game of “what if”.
Mannequins represent us, both me, personally, and us, the society. Them being so eerily alive and dead at the same time, I can address dark, uncomfortable, and sad topics, like fear, isolation, mental health, impossible standards. Mannequins allow to portray the issues with a human in mind, and at the same time, how dehumanizing many concepts are.
I am fascinated with the topic of nature versus nurture and how we and our environment influence and impact each other. I find incredible all the layers we have inside and how interconnected they are. I look at repeating patterns in the history of humanity, how often what we are free to choose has been chosen for us beforehand. I want to portray the moment of change, when we don’t know yet has the choice been good or bad, is it a blessing or a curse.“