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Gliwice, 12 February 1971

Dear Krysia!

(...) there are still a lot of things which it is difficult for me to write or speak about, but they absorb me a lot and they come first, even as far as photography is concerned. By the way, I spent almost a week in the darkroom like an idiot, every day until two in the night over these cycles1. Unfortunately I can’t do anything without getting involved, I always have to do 50% more photos, I change everything 10 times, I keep thinking that a different concept would be better, only when I have made hundreds of photos, everything somehow starts coming together. But always, after moments of enthusiasm that what I have done is “great”, a feeling of disappointment arrives again, a feeling that it is worthless and I need to change it. If it was not for the deadline, I would keep changing everything forever. This time I give 100% of pure photography, portraits of different people staring straight into the lens, and added to that are home interiors on both sides, or rather one wall divided into two parts, but corresponding in its nature to the person portrayed, for example a fisherman with nets hanging on the wall, some dried sea monsters and various fishing accessories; the wall is divided in such a way that part of it is always repeated on both sides. Or a very rural girl, all in flowers, and interiors typical for mountain people, with pictures and artificial flowers such as Ewa once collected, or a beautiful Art Nouveau wall with chandeliers and mirrors behind an old lady. This gave me a lot of pleasure and I would happily make a whole exhibition entitled “Humans and their things” or something like that, it’s a great psychological game. Only I should work on it for one year, deliberately seeking such motifs instead of rummaging through thousands of films to find something appropriate. To make things worse, at first I was thinking about producing a different cycle, about what is always haunting me, about “Departures”, but I kept changing it although it was almost ready.2 Anyway, now, during my wanderings, I will have a new theme for collecting and no matter how much I change it, it will always have a value as a document, and you can even do it “in a very revealing way”, not only showing objects, but also putting you in various objects into the photos to be a “searching photographer”.3 I am not being ironic, I just don’t like to do things if I don’t know what they are done for, and I accept even the greatest weirdness if it is deliberate. I somehow can’t bring myself to like things done only in order to surprise people. I am very curious about the “Cycles” exhibition, there will certainly be many good ones, but I am curious whether there will not be a predominance of “subjective” ones – and this is why I decided to go for pure photography, although with this jury it would have been better to go for “modernity”. If I had enough time, I would make another small cycle in this style, but with two such big and important exhibitions one after the other4 it would be difficult. My house is neglected, it is good that I live alone, for no one would bear with me, there are photos and films everywhere, photos are drying up on the floor, contact prints are spread on the tables, photos are getting rinsed in the bathroom, and so on and so forth. And I am exhausted, for sitting in a stuffy little darkroom night after night was terribly tiring. I even got a fright, because two veins broke and then my nose suddenly started bleeding – my blood pressure soared, sometimes I almost fainted, but a moment later I come back to the darkroom, and then even if I do lie down, I can’t sleep. Actually, it is not worth it, but such is the “charm of life”.

(...) Kisses Zosia

1) All-Polish Exhibition of Artistic Photography. Cycles, CBWA Zachęta, Warsaw, July-August 1971.
2) Eventually, Zofia Rydet did show the Departures cycle: “Out of Zofia Rydet’s two cycles Departures are definitely better – a heartrending sequence with an old woman approaching the doors of increasingly more dilapidated, ramshackle buildings. The monotonous rhythm of these repetitions creates a peculiar mood, gloomy and hopeless.” A. Ligocki, “Czyżby dobra zapowiedź?,” Fotografia 1971, no 11, p. 247.
3) Zofia Rydet employs this term in the context of non-traditional photography, using collage, optical deformation, painterly interventions, etc. – specifically in the context of exhibitions organised by Zbigniew Dłubak and Zbigniew Łagocki: Subjective Photography, 1968 (Kraków, Warsaw), and Searching Photographers, January 1971 (Warsaw).
4) The letter was written in February and the Searching Photographers exhibition opened in January.