Salamandra

Salamandra is an installment of Magdalena Franczuk’s photographic book “The Book of Wonder”, and a project of Foundation KUNST.CAMERA. It will be a visual adaptation of a not very well-known novel of the same name by Stefan Kotarbiński. Marcin Czerniak, Wiesław Komasa, Lucyna Szierok and Marianna Zydek were cast in the lead roles. Jan Peszek will give a guest performance as Satan. Among the professional actors, it will also feature supporting roles of people known within the Polish modern art scene.

“Salamandra” is a story enveloped in magical aura; it is about revealing the unconscious, hidden passions and searching for freedom. The main character, Jerzy, is “randomly” entangled in a dangerous game between two extremely powerful personalities: the red-haired witch Kama Bronicz, and a wizard, Andrzej Wierusz. The heart and mind of Jerzy are what is at stake in this game. Everything that Jerzy used to think is real, suddenly is not as certain as before. His smothered desires emerge and form into metaphysical perversions.After years of oblivion, “Salamandra” returns. Its visual adaptation will be enclosed in the medium of a book and in multimedia form within a web page. The premiere of the project will take place at the turn of 2017.

We present to you a visual prelude to “Salamandra” which will be, similarly to “The Book of Wonder”, realised in the form of huge location shoots that resemble filmsets.

Photography: Magdalena Franczuk
Starring: MARCIN CZARNIK as Jerzy
WIESŁAW KOMASA as Wierusz
LUCYNA SZIEROK as Kama
Make-up: Anna Scieżkowska-ŁącznyCostume stylist: Bajka Mourier (Contemporary Theatre of Wrocław)

Stefan Grabiński has been labelled a new Edgar Allan Poe (and has admitted to being inspired by the American author). He is unreservedly eccentric, colourful and expressive. He was always fascinated by the occult and horror, constantly putting his characters in almost inconceivable situations. Grabiński is a specialist in inventing stories where a person is entangled in intrigue, with completely alternate laws of logic than those known to us.
This logic is peculiarly superior, or one could even say “metaphysical”. However, almost everything which seems to be the most extraordinary is arranged by people.
Demiurges – mystical originators of the “metaphysical confusion” are the characters themselves. God and Satan are static, passive beings. The things haunting people are things that derive from the essence of themselves; mystical human potential is at once both his closest ally, and foulest opponent.
Although Grabiński raises some very important topics, they should not be taken entirely seriously. The author shifts between the peculiar frontier of realism and fairy tale.
Semi-realistic situations climax with a character dissolving into thin air, or the strange transformation of space. A hint of playfulness strikes the perfect chord with a shiver of real concern. Grabiński’s sensitivity seems to mirror that of contemporary authors of silent cinema – “Salamandra” harbours certain analogies to the movie “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”
by Robert Wiene. Its premiere in Poland occurred two years before the novel came into being.
A contemporary interpretation of “Salamandra” also seems to be close to the scenario of silent film – full of exaggeration and tension, an amazing festival of form, extraordinary and grand weirdness.
Although Grabiński’s texts have elements of realism, he is undoubtedly an outlandish writer and a visionary who seems to have very much in common with Witkacy or Bruno Schulz. Exuberance with his language, richness in description and incredible precision in recounting extraordinary events makes the reader feel the world as created in Grabiński’s mind. This world has its own texture, smell, temperature and emotions – a detached world, characterised exclusively by Stefan Grabiński. Its rich atmosphere is fuelled by the peculiar ecstasy of the narcotic-spasmodic-erotic visions of Witkacy. However, in Grabiński’s story, it all occurs in
a reality deformed by the erratic unpredictability of events which serves to make the reader even more fearful.
Although the author became famous through his short fantasy stories, only in this novel could he present all his maniacal ideas – monumental scenes, ravelling psychological or “parapsychological” relations between the characters, or the vortex of occult danger. Although Grabiński’s texts were thought to consist of “too much” of everything, this “too much” is inspiration for me to create a fantastical visual world based from the work of one of the most unjustly forgotten (and contemporarily discovered anew) authors of the interwar period.
This project will be absolute in both the real and abstract components. This is also a continuation and fresh development of “The Book of Wonder” – a visual adaptation of the occultist and scribbler Franciszek Leon Madaleyski’s travel diaries. “Salamandra” is a natural extension of “The Book of Wonder”, continuation and clinching of my artistic decisions.

If you are willing to support the production of “Salamandra”, we encourage you to make a purchase in our online shop and to make donations to the account of Foundation KUNST.CAMERA. All the donors will be listed in the book version of “Salamandra” and on our web page in the Honorary Patronage tab.
If you have any more questions, please direct them to fundacja.kunst.camera@gmail.com

Bank account: 48175000120000000035941328 (Raiffeisen Bank Polska S.A.)
Fundacja KUNST.CAMERAul. Rakowicka 10b/4, 31-511 Kraków