The photography series NOSTALGIA tells the story of an immigrant’s remembrance of a life disrupted by war. Cold earth and blackened gun-metal. Taking with you only the most precious and essential. Cast alone amongst thousands; forced, overnight, to leave their home, their family, their animals, and the places they love; fractious, precarious, putting their lives in the hands of strangers. You still feel it, every moment. It’s hard to forget who you used to be, and what was once yours. The new identity is painful, one described by your nationality, an absence, and the place where your heart still lies.
Nostalgia by Monika K. Adler
Through memories, you belong to a different place, landscape, climate, and environment. In your homeland the seasons had another smell and colour; the rain felt different, the sun was warmer on your face; the fruit sweeter; the trees rustled unlike anywhere else. These surroundings shaped you, and made you remember who you are, and where you came from.
You are a stranger in a new place. People don’t trust you. Under apparent kindness, eventually hostility will emerge. They don’t know if you are a victim or aggressor, but you are indifferent to their judgement. You are tied to your nostalgia, which kills you every day.
Overburdened by memory, you dream about a return to the land where you left your soul.
But is it possible? Will there be anything to come back to? Can your motherland still your home? Does a past life that was razed to the ground have any chance of being reborn? If so, in what form? How to recognise people you don’t know anymore? Will they recognise you? Will your memory survive in them, or will you be forever a stranger? How to forget those who suffered: killed, raped, displaced, and robbed of everything that is human? For how long should one remember the barbarity of the enemy, and how can we ensure their crimes will not fade from the pages of history books? How will they not become rationalised to people of good will? Will the world forgive and forget too soon?
Nostalgia by Monika K. Adler
These invaders never respect occupied lands and the human beings who created their own worlds there. Filled with contempt and hatred, they wipe out every shred of past existence. They are ready to uproot every tree, annihilate every home, burn libraries, museums, galleries, bomb opera houses and theatres to install a new order, culture, and new language.
Despite the immensity of their cruelty, no punishment has ever befallen them, or will.
For history, the death of the masses means nothing. The games of clowns and psychopaths at war one day end. Weaponised human bodies are finite and cannot fight forever. The idea of peace sounds enthusiastic, but rebuilding takes time and wounds never heal. They will live on in the next generations, as trauma, and collective memory.
Afterwards, is it possible to return, and to what end? What of those who had to flee somewhere to a foreign land, to start again amongst seemingly friendly people?
Emigrant limbo: the state between two different pasts. Arriving in a new land is also history.
In the end, it appears NOSTALGIA is a state between reality and sleep; a haven, a place of exile and eternal seclusion, where you can immerse yourself in a childhood landscape outside the contemporary narrative.
A kaleidoscope. You shift the images in your head, one on top of another, and turn them upside down: colours, smells, sounds, feelings and events mix, one in the other. For a moment, you’re where you belong — no longer a stranger.
In nostalgia, every time you close your eyes, you reach home. You didn’t die, and you will survive.
Nostalgia by Monika K. Adler
As one of two-hundred of the best female photographers in UK, the project 209 Women selected Adler to photograph one of the female members of UK parliament. The exhibition showed at the Palace of Westminster, London and Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, 2018 - 19. Her work is held in the Houses of Parliament’s permanent collection.
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Monika K. Adler
is a photographer and avant-garde filmmaker based in London, The United Kingdom, known for her challenging and provocative photography and experimental films. Born in Poland, she graduated from The European Academy of Photography in Warsaw, Poland and the Wojciech Gerson’s National School of Fine Arts. After that she moved to Paris, France (2004), where she photographed the life of the city and its artistic Bohemia. Her first solo show: ’Monika K. Adler - La photographie moderne’ took place in the Galerie La Tour at the Rue Saint Honore in Paris, in January 2005. Between 2005-2012 Adler led a vagabond life style and travelled 180 places in Europe and New York to create a photography project ’Travel no End’. Comprising 200 prints, this is a poetic documentary journal of contemplating daily life in its deepest form.
She first gained attention with the transgressive photography series and art-film Chernobyl of Love (2012), filmed in Ukraine, near the ruins of the 1986 nuclear accident. From 2012 Adler lives and works in London, The United Kingdom. She focuses on black and white conceptual and fine art photography, addressing cultural constructions of memory, history and trauma, identity, consumerism, and sexuality. She creates video art and films as well. Her upcoming feature film, Sick Bacchus, tells a story of pathological consumption amongst London’s wealthy elite. In 2018 she was nominated to a Hundred Heroines - The Royal Photographic Society’s Award in the United Kingdom.
Her works have been shown in over 150 exhibitions, video art and film festivals internationally. These have included: Gwangju Biennale, KR; Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, UK; House of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Lagos Photo Festival 20: Home Museum; Photo London, Somerset House, London, UK. Rankin 2020 #Self – Sky Arts; Saint Germain Photo Festival, Paris, France: UK; Auckland Photo Festival, New Zealand; Gislaveds Konsthall, Sweden; The State Museum of Gulag, Moscow; West Den Haag, The Hague, Netherlands; CICA Museum, Czong Institute of Contemporary Art, KR; Museum of Image and Sound, Florianopolis, Brazil; Edinburgh International Festival; BBC 100 Women, London; The National Art Gallery Wozownia, Torun, Poland; Façade Video Art Festival, Plovdiv Bulgaria; National Press Gallery Seoul, Korea; Ilmin Museum, Seoul, Korea; Museum of New Art, Detroit; London Arts Festival. Films On Art, Portugal; EAI, San Diego. Zeta Art Center & Gallery, Tirana, Albania. Sobering Gallery, Paris. National Institute of Fine Arts, Tetouan, Morocco; Sala Rekalde, Bilbao, Spain; Galerie La Tour, Paris and the Second International Festival of Photography, Łódź, Poland, etc.
She is best known her avant-garde films such as Nostalgia, 2022, The Beauty of the Shadow, 2011, Chernobyl of Love, 2012, Purification, 2012, Misery of my soul, 2012, Wolfe von Lenkiewicz – Portrait of the artist, 2012, Come back to the trees, 2013, Mutability, 2013, On being an Angel, 2014, Involuntary Memory, 2014, Simone de Beauvoir told me, 2016, In the name of the Father, 2020 as-well as the photography collections: Nostalgia, 2022, The Truth, 2020-2021, Maldives of Consciousness 2019-2021, Nokturn, 2002, Sacred Flesh, 2003, Towards Abyssinia, 2016-2018, Yggdrasil, 2015-2018, Mademoiselle Guillotine, 2004, Travel no End 2005-2018, Chernobyl of love, 2011, Nostalgia 2022, Anxiety & Neurosis, 2012-2018, Existence, 2013-2018, Coyote, 2013-2018 and Beyond Time, 2014-2019.
Monika K. Adler’s films and image-based works have been the subject of several academic studies and published in many magazines and publications including: The Eye of Photography, GUP Magazine, Vogue Italia, Art & Commerce + Vogue Italia, Photographer Russia, Beta development in photography, Soanyway Magazine, Dodho Magazine, Private Photo Review, Harper Baazar UK, Guardian, The Times, Leica Photography Internationale, The Ambivalent Body: On The Short Films Of Monika K. Adler, 2013, The Martyrdom of the Angel’s Body: The Female Artist as Naked Signifier, 2014, 209 Women – Photography Book, 2019, Rankin’s 2020 – Photography Book 2020, Review Of Monika K. Adler’s Photographic Work: A Psychological Perspective, 2013, etc.
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