Ligia Popławska about exhibiting at the International Photography Festival PhMuseum Days – PHmuseum | Ad On Picture

The Polish photographer shares her experiences after her project fading senses was selected from last year’s open call and exhibited at our International Photo Festival in Bologna, Italy.

Ligia Popławska’s project fading senses was discovered through the festival’s open call and now sits on the jury, along with fellow photographers Silvia Rosi and Alejandro Chaskielberg, who also exhibited at the festival, to select new projects to be presented at the upcoming edition.

Her work began with a personal experience losing their sense of smell which changed her perception of the photographic medium. At the same time, she went through ecological grief after a tornado devastated her beloved Polish forest and its ecosystem. From there, she began researching climate desperation, environmental anxiety, and cognition in relation to their impact on our well-being and brain mechanisms. “I started fading senses with a rather abstract idea of ​​photographing the disappearance of the senses. My focus was not just on the physical matter, but on the emotional state of someone going through sensory deprivation.” She soon discovered the concept of solastalgia, which she explores in this series along with the sense of human disconnection from the natural habitat. “I produced most of the work in early 2020. As traveling was impossible I mainly worked in the Antwerp area where I live. I focused on photographing the illusory stability and protection of various places such as homes for the visually impaired or centers for acrobats, some of which are also linked to anthropocentric thinking, such as a zoo space or socialist architecture”. For her it was fascinating how During the pandemic, the loss of a sense (smell or taste) became such a common condition that it allowed their project to resonate with a larger audience.

Presenting this body of work while it is still ongoing and reaching a much larger audience has allowed Ligia to realize how universal and personal it is at the same time. “Being one of the photographers exhibiting at the PhMuseum Days 2021 Open Call was like an injection of confidence and support, it opened new perspectives to further my artistic development and brought a lot of attention to the project. From the beginning I have worked closely with Giuseppe Oliverio and Rocco Venezia, the director and curator of the PhMuseum. We had a few video calls together where I presented my work. We exchanged ideas about the presentation and discussed my stay in Bologna. I also had the freedom – she continues – to add additional ideas related to the project, like the scent and soundscape installationsand a research book included in the final presentation”.

Coming to Bologna was also part of the positive experience. “The festival offers a rich program of artist and publisher talks, interviews with special guests and nightly concerts. I’m really grateful to meet so many interesting people, the creative exchange, the energy and just having the best time. And specially I am grateful for the generous and warm hospitality of the PhMuseum team. It was also a pleasure to be officially welcomed by the Department of Culture of the City of Bologna and to enjoy the beauty of the city, which is not called the capital of the tastiest Italian cuisine for nothing.”

We ask her for advice for future applicants and she tells us about it the importance of a good text that summarizes your project well. “If possible, consult the text with someone who knows your project. By applying, you give yourself the chance for photo specialists to see your work and become aware of you. At the PhMuseum Days you are guaranteed international recognition, To exhibit your work among the best contemporary photographers and to reach a wide audienceand to spend an enchanting weekend in sunny Bologna.”

Images from Ligia Poplawska’s exhibition at PhMuseum Days 2021 © PhMuseum


League Poplawska (1994, Poland) Photographer and art historian based in Antwerp, Belgium. Working at the intersection of art and science, she creates visual narratives that analyze parallels between senses and memories, emotional states and conditions of the present. She explores areas such as psychology, neuroscience and biology to find a basis for her speculative photographic storytelling and olfactory works. Graduated with an MFA in Photography from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp (2020) and a BA in Art History from the University of Gdańsk (2016).


PhMuseum Days International Photo Festival is an event taking place in Bologna, Italy, that brings together photographers and photography lovers of all nationalities and styles. The inaugural festival opened in September 2021 with the theme A New Beginning and was attended by more than 4000 visitors. The open call for the new edition presents a jury consisting of Silvia Rosi, Alejandro Chaskielberg, Ligia Popławska and the PhMuseum Curatorial Team. The theme is Today is Yesterday’s Tomorrow and is meant to be an opportunity to reflect on the powerful moment of change we are experiencing. The early bird deadline is April 21, the regular deadline is May 12, 2022. Find out more and apply at

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