Awkwardness by Maria Gawryluk – An Interview

Photographer Maria Gawryluk’s work focuses on young women her age capturing relatable, dynamic, and sharp scenes of coming of age, transitions, and Awkwardness. “I am inspired by escaping this perpetual present” – Maria says about her muses. Trying to find her voice in “rejected” frames, she creates cinematographic pieces on the edge of fashion and documentary seeking honesty and realness. KALTBLUT spoke to Maria about her latest project Awkwardness, finding inspiration in women around her, and her goals on becoming a filmmaker.

KALTBLUT: Tell me a bit about yourself as a photographer?
Maria Gawryluk: While my work as a photographer is now quite international, its inception was in Cracow, Poland where I grew up and studied. At 16, I began photographing other women my age. They inspired me, and I wanted to fuse my interests in fashion and film into my work. I went on to study graphic design and painting at the University of Fine Arts in Cracow, which is also when I had my first photography exhibition. This was my sort of breakthrough moment as a photographer – I was selected for DEBUTS, a competition representing young/emerging Polish photographers. The exhibition took place in Lille, France at the Maison de la Photographie and in Paris at Galerie Claude Samuel. After some time, my photography was selected to be showcased in a 30 Under 30 curation of women photographers.

KALTBLUT: Why did you decide to shoot Awkwardness? What is the main idea behind the project?
Maria: A lot of my photography work has been fashion-focused. This type of work places a strong emphasis on capturing the “right” frames – the types we expect to see in which the models pose, familiar gestures, and repeated facial expressions. After a while, I noticed the moments in between these shots – the ones that would typically be unwanted/discarded – were actually more interesting to me. I refocused my attention on capturing these moments of Awkwardness. My pivotal moment in this process was during my series Swimming Pool, in which the typically rejected frames became my anchor point. This seguéd into my starting the series Awkwardness.

KALTBLUT: How would you define Awkwardness? What is Awkwardness for you?
Maria: Awkwardness is something uncomfortable for me… an uncomfortable feeling that manifests once we become aware that the things we actively try to conceal from the camera are actually observable. This is the core concept in the Awkwardness series. The undesirable elements of people, situations and sets become the fixation of my observation.

KALTBLUT: How did lockdown affect your work?
Maria: Quarantine made me experiment with a new medium – video. My main goal is to eventually transition fully into filmmaking and now I’m focused on educating myself and learning the new craft. I try to make my pictures look like you paused a movie and I’ve always wanted to have this dynamic and cinematographic image.

KALTBLUT: What is the main inspiration for you now?
Maria: I am inspired by escaping this perpetual present and arriving soon at the elusive “future” that I think so many of us are in desperate need of.

Text by Kristina Shakht / / Instagram: @kristinashakht
Instagram: @mariagawryluk