Jason Jaworski, Two Winters Long

JTF (just the facts): Self-published (by SSK Press) in 2016 (here). Softcover (with a mylar oversheet with hand dripped melted wax and rubber band binding), 168 pages, with 155 black and white photographs. Includes a text by the artist. In an edition of 100. (Cover and spread shots below.)

Comments/Context: Jason Jaworski is frequently on the road. As a young American photographer/writer based in Los Angeles, Jaworski has spent the past several years moving between places on several continents, documenting experiences on his journeys as well as the people he has encountered. He describes himself as “just a curious person longing to learn from strangers”, and his work often combines both text and images, where layered stories have room to blossom.

Jaworski shares his experiences through photobooks – publishing zines quickly became a habit, and in 2007 he founded his own imprint SSK Press. (In one of his interviews he says: “I’m a super book nerd, I love having books. So I just started making them myself”.) In the past few years, Jaworski has produced nearly a dozen zines, printing them in his studio and almost always adding handmade elements.

For one of his early projects, entitled 1000 Miles, he walked 10 miles daily for 100 days back and forth across Los Angeles, traversing a city famously known for the impossibility of visiting it on foot. And while on one of his first trips to Europe, he ended up walking from Frankfurt to Paris, hitchhiking every now and then. Conceptually, Jaworski’s work is often centered around these road trip adventures, and what he uncovers along the way.

His most recent zine is titled Two Winters Long, and most of the images in the project were taken in Cambodia where Jaworski spent winter of 2015 working for the local NGO, teaching art to orphans. His initial plan was to make a book using just those pictures. But while he was there, his grandmother passed away and the dog he grew up with died, and shortly after he got back to the United States, his very close friend had a miscarriage. When he finally sat down to edit the images from his Cambodia trip (and the additional travels throughout the same season), he realised that many of the other photographs taken all over (New York, Los Angeles, Tijuana, San Francisco, San Ysidro, Oahu, and Scranton) could be interwoven into the visual narrative of memories.

Two Winters Long brings together this collection of black and white images, all full bleed, sequenced together mixing locations and emotions. With no guiding captions, the visual flow intermingles the multiple losses that Jaworski endured during that winter. The first spread pairs an image of a cross painted on the wall with a group of five children in Cambodia as they happily pose in front of the camera, and cruciforms and portraits of people he encountered (often aware of his presence as they look straight into the camera) recur throughout the zine. Images of fences also appear repeatedly. These fences and their various up close details can be seen as a symbol of separation, protection, or even as a feeling of missing someone – they become barriers, screens, and obstacles, preventing connection and understanding.

While we can recognize streets and corners of certain cities, the images of his journey dissolve into one another. Jaworski just keeps moving, completely submerging into his surroundings. Some of his images are blurry, like the passing of something fleetingly out of reach or the hazy fading of our memories. All of these discrete moments blend into one visual experience, full of quiet melancholy.

The raw immediacy of zine making complements Jaworski’s work – the zine was edited, sequenced, bound, and printed over the course of fourteen days. Simply folded and held together by few elastic bands, the zine feels loose and hand worn, like it has been previously shuffled. The cover is made of transparency paper, with unique drops of candle wax scattered across the surface – each candle came from a funeral Jaworski attended, and the drops are meant to fall off, just like tear drops. This is a very personal and powerfully moving element that alters our interaction with the whole narrative, and the tactile hand-crafted process brings us into close interaction with the artist.

In the end, Two Winters Long is a surprisingly intimate journey, marked by the losses of life and reflected through the memories of specific places and times. Jaworski uses zine making as his method of grieving, and that open emotional authenticity comes through in its overall feel. In this unusual case, photobook making becomes its own form of coping or coming to terms, the end result a byproduct of not only his physical journeys but also more inward looking ones.

Collector’s POV: Jason Jaworski does not appear to have gallery representation at this time. Collectors interested in following up should likely connect directly with the artist via his website (linked above).

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