I remember the joy caused by the discovery of Haribo jellies, Nutella and margarine among colorful clothes packed in heavy 15-kilo cardboard boxes. We used to get huge packages from relatives who lived in West Germany, when Poland was lacking many basic things. It was a celebration, the whole family was present for the grand opening.
These clothes, even though second-hand, were good enough for Mum, she never felt the need to buy new ones. She preferred to save money for more important expenses. She always looked modest and didn’t like black. Some say that what one wears is a part of creating one’s identity. My mother, all her life, wore clothes that she hadn’t chosen.
I’ve been reliving the past and have lived in the past since her death in 2008. All my work has been building on my memories and longing. “Self-portrait with my mother” is an attempt to summarize that period, move beyond the past – a final reconciliation with reality.
My grandmother’s house is empty and cold now, mining damage slowly changed it into a ruin. This is where my mother, my sister and I grew up. It is here where I brought clothes after the death of mother. And now when also my grandmother passed away, it is here where I’ve been taking self-portraits, recreating the dresses and outfits from my memory exactly like my mother use to match them.
I’ve tried another set which we got in one of those big packages so many years ago.
I found her blond hair on the green coat.