Agnieszka Rayss - American Dream
Fascinating book by Agnieszka Rayss that explores the longing for stardom in modern Polish culture.
1st edition published by Foundation Pro Fotografia, 2010
A couple of years ago I started shooting a new phenomena in Polish popular culture - the bombastic castings for TV shows, cheerleaders performing at sport stadiums, open and mass auditions for top models. The changes were on the way. I decided to document this phenomenon and follow the masses of girls answering to the call of the media in the pursuit of excellence in the mediocre East-Central Europe. They wanted to shine, and they found the key: being photogenic. I entered the universal world of striving for perfection and, to my surprise, I found it appealing to myself. I am no queen of the catwalk, but my world does not really differ that much from the world of my heroines. I believe in success and feel down when I lose. I do take part in numerous competitions and wonder: what for? Would this make my work any better if I won? Nonetheless, we still believe this would give us prospects for better life and better work, bringing us closer to big names. It is true, that we are all different, but at the same time, our beliefs reveal a deeper and quite universal mechanism. Recognition is best thing that could happen, as it entails prestige and better start in life. Various prizes - a crown, a diploma, or a title - are the measure of value. The more, the better, if only for the sake of my CV. I am aware that the way it all works is subject to various concerns, but honestly, I can't say whether it is good or bad that these are the rules of the game. For me, it is a little tiring, but I have not heard of a single girl withdrawing from the better side of this world. The stage is a stage, no matter what. No wonder, catwalk is a place to be - if only once in a lifetime.
Agnieszka Rayss is a member of the Sputnik Photos collective.