Felix Culpa is a series of personal collages by Jagoda Valkov. In her works, the artist combines photographs from her family archive and albums belonging to other members of the Families of Nazareth Movement (within which Valkov was raised) with contemporary symbolic graphics. Here we have processed memories of adolescence and 13 years of life within a religious organization.
Valkov returns to this period in a fresh and intimate way, stimulating memory, creating oneiric, psychedelic images, and drawing the viewer into a world where the border between slumber and re-created reality is exceedingly subtle. In the collages, religious motifs are a constant, fragments of a bygone reality retrieved from the abyss of memory. Snakes and other animals symbolize the powers of Satan, whose influence on the life of a person (including a child) the Movement constantly warned against. Motifs of the devil as evil incarnate mix with sacred birds manifesting the Holy Spirit. Aureoles, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, roses, and other symbols of holiness do not exist by themselves in this world. They are overwhelmed by visions of a crown of thorns, flies, locusts, biblical plagues.
The aesthetic Valkov applies, with memories melding with symbolic images and testimony from a period of existence within a religious organization, opens up a fascinating realm in which colours, visions, dreams and images from reality generate an intense cocktail, shimmering like images in a kaleidoscope – truly a felix culpa.
The Families of Nazareth Movement was initiated by the late Father Tadeusz Dajczer, who collaborated with the secularist Sławomir Biela. In 1985, together with a group of believers, they established an evangelical community, the Movement’s first, in Warsaw. The members of the Movement revere the Holy Family of Nazareth. They sought (and continue to, the Movement, having reformed in 2009, still exists) to channel its devoutness through lives lived in quotidian fraternal communion with God. The movement counts 45,000 followers worldwide (3000 in the Archdiocese of Warsaw), spread across some 40 countries. It operates at the parish level, and within its structure there are sections for young children, adolescents, students and adults.
Quotations are drawn from Decree No. 314/A/2009, issued by Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw, concerning the Families of Nazareth Movement.
Jagoda Valkov (b. 1985, Warsaw) studied landscape architecture at the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, and scenic design and exhibition design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. She completed the DOK PRO documentary course at the Wajda School in Łódź and graduated from the Sputnik Photos collective’s mentoring programme. She is also a graduate of the Academy of Photography in Warsaw.
Jagoda Valkov’s photographs will be displayed during the 19th edition of the Kraków Photomonth Festival. Find more information at: photomonth.com