Gliwice, December 1974
Dear Krysia, I sent to you and your loved ones the best and cordial wishes of nice Christmas and a good, healthy New Year. And that we have slightly more time. For things are simply terrifying in this respect. The older I am, the more work and less time I have, and I already know that I will not manage to do what I want to do, that I have to give up on many things. I am thinking about dropping the Polytechnics, for it takes a huge amount of my time. Earning a living is absorbing, but it offers too little besides – only contact with the young and transmitting my knowledge and passion. But it is probably not worth it. I have so little time and so many plans. Now I am sitting over my book, as you know I have to make it from scratch, for although the publishing house moved somewhere else, they did not find that the paste-up and everything has to be done again, which makes my work very difficult (the deadline is already signed for 2 February). On top of it, I had to copy each work so many times and now, to find the best one, I again had to make useless prints. Besides, I’m making some three or four additional cycles and the complete thing starts to emerge, like some saga (this is perhaps putting it to grandiosely) about human life. In fact, I would simply like to show what each of us goes through, the tragic nature of passing away and at the same time experiencing all these almost stereotypical emotions and states.
I am still haunted by Poe’s poem which I copied as a 14-year-old girl and I still remember it.
I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand Grains of the golden sand-
How few! Yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep-
while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?1
I made this set for an exhibition in Gdańsk called “Złocisty Jantar”2, a story about Bartek,3 it was called “Transformations – documentations 1957-1974”. It was 3 m long, 85 cm high, 17 portraits inside, made every year, and at the bottom a string of photos, one going into a another, plus reproductions of his letters. The photos showed his life from the moment of birth, washing him, etc., crawling, the first standing up, walking, then tinkering and playing at home, then a photo from school (I was in his school three times). The first communion, playing with boys and with Agata [Augustyńska], further education and finally an adult person on a motorbike and a photo with a girl, and at the top a string of copies of one letter, where he writes with wonderful childish mistakes that he is “the best behaved in scool”.
It cost me a lot, a huge lot of work, they probably won’t accept it, for it is too big, but I had many wonderful moments when working on it and I knew that almost every life is like that, something like constant dying and becoming something else, something new. Besides I had a fever then, about 38° and the hellish root pain, but passion is stronger.
This is getting to long so I stop now.
Kisses for you and all yours,
1) See Edgar Allan Poe, A Dream Within A Dream, 1849.
2) Polish Photography Competition “Złocisty Jantar”, Gdańsk 1974, the cycle Transformations 1957–1974 was shown.
3) Bartłomiej Augustyński, grandson of Tadeusz Rydet, Zofia Rydet’s brother.