In an interview with LightGrey Artlab, Polish photographer Justyna Neryng says she doesn’t care how things look. She documents something she feels, rather than something she can see. This ‘focus on emotions’ becomes strikingly apparent in her on-going series Childhood Lost. Inspired by early fantasies that played out in her hometown’s forests, the portraits depict myth and storybook characters Neryng knew well when growing up. The set is cold, grandiose and completely honest. Although theatricality is at the fore, the photographs tell no lie. When staring into the fanciful darkness, there’s relief – we’re participating in this truth and are not taken for a fool. ‘The drama’ expressed through dress, make-up and lighting influenced by the Golden Era of Dutch Painting translates her sentiments into a mood we can grasp.
Modelled by her daughter – who grew up in the UK and has experienced a completely different upbringing to her mother’s – Childhood Lost is, as Neryng says, “a self-portrait’ in a different body”. It deals with the contradictions as well as the tales their young lives have in common, blending them into a collection of photographs that perfectly balance good and bad.