New East Digital Archive

Polish artist grabs photo prize nomination for nostalgic mash-ups of socialism and raw meat

6 March 2018

London-based artist Paulina Otylie Surys describes her childhood memories of Communist Poland as dormant, flickering images, surpressed and boxed away from her “shiny new life” in the West.

Now the multimedia artist is exploring her own view of the past by fusing hazy, socialist-era images with what she describes as communist Poland’s “real royalty”: the deep red hues of raw meat. The resulting images combine the familiar with a sense of fear and unease — hinting at the misleading nature of nostalgia.

“Fear of hunger, caused by the recent war, meant meat shortages,” the artist says. “Meat turned into currency and was often used as a bribe, payment or gift. It was a synonym for security in a country dominated by a terror of empty shops and rationed food.”

The resulting series, Dreamatorium, has now been nominated British Journal of Photography’s International Prize. All five finalists will receive VIP access to this year’s Photo London and Peckham 24, while the winner will get a £5000 production grant to stage their own solo show at London gallery TJ Boulting.

To see more of the artist’s work, visit her website by clicking here.