Izabela Jurcewicz uses her camera to become both a surgeon and a patient
But the project also has another dimension beyond this self-reflective and therapeutic moment. Her father was diagnosed with fourth-stage metastatic cancer in Poland while she was in New York City. Already feeling a deep empathy due to the similarity to her own experiences, she “didn’t want to be an outsider to his illness.” Physically placing herself in her father’s positions, she photographed herself as him, wearing his medical stockings in his medical bed, ultimately forcing her to confront his physical limits.
“From one of my therapists, I learned that sources of pain and anxiety are held in unseen layers of the subconscious mind,” she says. “Whenever I am in a stressful situation, these traumatic memories open up in the cells as if I were again fighting for my life on the surgical table.” Photography, however, has allowed her to re-attune herself with her body, of how it is a “repository of emotion and of ease and freedom.” Beyond the recreations, the images she creates – metaphoric close-ups of vessels, fish, shells, specimens, glass – “become stand-ins to express the emotional states and visions” that was imprinted upon her.
“Two words can be used to describe time: ‘chronos’, the chronological or sequential time, and ‘kairos’, the proper, opportune time for action,” she says. The former being quantitative, and the latter qualitative, Izabel says that she entered into a non-linear sense of time during this process. “Kairos is believed to be a soul or self-nourishing time. In kairos, there is only the present moment. To achieve it, we must let go of everything else.”