Agnieszka Rayss - From the Notes of a Collector

Sputnik Photos 2020

In her series From the Notes of a Collector, Agnieszka Rayss invites us on a journey through the landscape of a collection, with individual items held in these collections acting as signposts.

This folder contains photos that the artist took of various collections, including the Life Under Communism Museum, the Warsaw Tram Memorial Room, and the Diving Museum. The series was taken in state-run institutions, steeped in tradition, as well as in private collections, and it includes both large and small collections. However, these differences have had little impact on how the series turned out. The main subject of the author’s work is the object, a part of a collection, not the collection as a whole.

The theme of the photos presented here is objects that have been deprived of their useful function in order to serve as signs of bygone times, relics of the past. However, this is not some momentous past that could become part of some created historical politics, but more an intimate past, testifying to the fate of a single collector or group of enthusiasts. Moreover, usually, these are not especially valuable objects (nationally important ones or a one-of-a-kind item), but generally things that until recently could be found in many Polish homes.


Many photos in this series include parts of human figures that are interacting with the photographed thimbles or deep sea diving helmets. Capturing interactions between people and objects in photographs seems, additionally, to be quite revolutionary. After all, once included in a collection, things cease to get touched. It is not the warmth of a human hand that coaxes them to live, but the warmth of a human look. Breaking the museum taboo and putting on an antique boxing glove briefly returns the object to its past, to the period before it became an exhibit in a museum.

Edition of 150 hand-numbered copies.