Maciej Czepiel

Free, 2017

If I Could Only Remember

This photo represents the help my family received during difficult times we experienced in communist Poland.

friends Help together

This picture represents how people were trying to flee the country for a better life. There was always a chance of getting caught. I use this round form throughout this project to keep the viewer in a dream state. This image is between dream and reality.

police communists flee

This photo represents a watchtower. There was a lot of surveillance at this time in Poland, and people’s each and every moves were being watched.

communists watchtower repression

This is a photo of me holding a picture of my parents at a younger age. I use these kind of pictures several times in the project to illustrate how I am looking for answers in my family archives. These pictures are also intended as self-portraits, because I never use my real face in this project (except for one picture of me as a child).

archives parents family

This is a representation of a watchtower. This work is about my memories of that time, but as I was only one or two years old, my memories are built from what my family and relatives told me about this period. What I do in this project is rebuild these memories and show the viewer that I am doing the work of building and looking for answers.

rebuilding watchtower memories

This is the Matterhorn, a well-known symbol of Switzerland. This photo represents me, looking at my dreams far away. Switzerland has always been in my mind, like some dream I’m trying to reach.

matterhorn switzerland dreams

This represents me being in what seems like a dream, but everything looks so real. I use these kind of portraits throughout the series to create a bond between the representation of me and that of my parents, but also to create a transformation to these round shapes, as if they were becoming clearer and closer to the real world.

me DREAM friends

I use this round form throughout this project to keep the viewer in a dream state. Sometimes I create what seems like a real environment and sometimes I show abstract situations to create this confusion as to whether what the viewer is looking at is in real life or is a memory.

lost memory lack DREAM


I was born in 1987 in Cracow, Poland; the Berlin wall was still up, and my parents wanted to escape,what they didn’t know to be, the last traces of communism left in the country. We flee to Germany, where we stay in a refugee camp for about a year, and then went to Canada for 7 years. Our last destination was Switzerland, where I live now.
With this project, I am retracing my memories of what I lived, and also the memories my mind created with the stories I’ve been told by my parents and relatives. I’ve tried to represent everything like in a dream, or maybe a blurred memory.
Some of the things are anchored in the real world and then represented as if in a dream. I’m alternating between the two worlds as if I was confused about the truth and the representation I’ve made myself believe were true. In these images, I am trying to show the viewer I am recreating something, to show theme I am looking for some sort of answer or maybe trying to recreate a truth.
This is all a reflexion of my blurred memories I am trying to rediscover, to put a fresh image on.
This project is my diploma work presented at CEPV, Vevey - Switzerland in juin 2017. It received the USPP price which is given to the best diploma projet.


Titel der Arbeit
If I Could Only Remember