PDN Photo of the Day

American Sojourn (10 Photos)

American Sojourn (10 Photos)

All photos © Karolina Karlic

Karolina Karlic is a Los Angeles-based conceptual artist. Her work is tied to the idea of the West: road trips, car culture, industry, economic ups and downs, and the experience of the migrant. Her series “Elementarz” (Polish for “Primer”) shuttles between the familiar American photographic road trip and her reexamination of parts of Poland where her family comes from and to which her father, after years working as an emigre engineer in the Detroit auto industry, was dispatched to investigate new sites for the next generation car plants. The work weaves together family, surrogate relatives, religion, nostalgia, Motown music, manufactured ideologies and other themes.

Karlic is a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship.  She continues to explore representations of American culture, industry, labor, and the immigrant experience in a current work-in-progress that focuses on an American oil boom town. – Artist statement courtesy of Karolina Karlic









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  1. Karolina Karlic is an amazingly talented photographer, who has been exploring and photographing her beloved and respected city of Detroit. Karlic has been creating images of true beauty and democratic process of photography. I look forward to more work by this extremely creative photographer.

  2. I’ve been and looked a this lady’s website. It left me with the same feeling as this sample. Confusion as to what she is expounding. Many of the images are utterly banal as stand-alones. To be honest I’m reminded of any number of royalty free catalogues. They sit, decontextualised, no explanation and seemingly only randomly attached to their folio titles. Some introductory text to each project, with genuine information to place the images within their context, along with individual image captions would perhaps leave an interesting document.

    As they stand; drivel.

  3. I can not see any link between the images, I do not understand those who say that she portrayed her beloved city.what they have to do those cars with her city? the strawberries in the bag? A man who shaves? Are perhaps typical of Detroit? The fact is that today there is an increasing empty well packaged.

  4. These images are part of a larger series exploring the Detroit auto industry, her life in Detroit and the difficulties and beauty of this city. I’m shocked people don’t see the connection. I think her work is conceptually beyond people, after reading these comments. My experience is conceptual artists and curators see her work for exactly what it is. Beautiful, inspiring, challenging and technically advanced for the standards of today’s photography. I suggest people look at her website and sit and read the texts she has written. It will
    Blow your untrained,
    And unversed minds:) I promise.

  5. I can definitely see both sides of this opinion fence pretty evenly. There is maybe… a mundane quality but, a portrait of real life often IS mundane. To represent it another way would be false in many cases. I am of the opinion that where fine art and journalism combine there is sometimes a biiiiig leap at trying to make a very ambitious statement about the human condition. I get that and it certainly makes me shake my head in disappointment at what I really here the artist saying… “if you dont get this it’s cuz Im smarter than you.” In my case it’s probably a true presumption. But, presumptions piss me off so it makes me want to fight them. BUT, in THIS case (even if you need sit and ponder a minute) there is very obvious talent and a subtle compassion for the people and places. Yes, the work speaks more clearly and immediate to a certain sensibility… which I assert has nothing to do with any sort of actual intelligence but only circumstances. Circumstances that make these images meaningful for a particular viewer.
    The man shaving… could be just a man shaving but I see the fried eggs he’s gonna eat for breakfast and the corner dinner, alone and the beers and Pierogies he’s gonna have at the corner bar with his buddies after his shift. The strawberries… I don’t know about that one. It’s pretty. I give is a pass because in the right context is might show sustainable community???
    The white guys with a car… the black guys with a car… both from the same era, cared for and celebrated with equal passion… yada yada, come on… you see that right?? And have you ever see an auto union workers locker??? Full of pin ups. FULL of them. And the lady, maybe widow at a funeral. The resolve in her. strength. sadness. beauty. Yeah, it’s there. Its a story. A picture is worth a thousand words but the life of the “civilization” of Detroit couldn’t be contained in a thousand pictures… not even two thousand from a single photographer. These images are a representation OF a representation from ONE person so, context is hard. I’ve spent some time in Detroit. I identify with Detroit. My circumstances allow me to see these images even though I’m probably dumber that you.
    So, good job Karolina. Thank you for seeking out and showing the life there in the way you know how. I wish I could see like this in my work but, I only see muscles and touchdowns.
    Peace and Love, everyone -chris

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