Title of the document


Fading Senses

Title of the document



2019 - ongoing

What happens if we lose our senses? In times of multispecies extinction and devastating effects caused by climate change, environmental anxiety and climate grief are a rising problem affecting societies. Solastalgia is a relatively new name, introduced in 2003 by Australian environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht, for describing an emotional distress caused by the loss of ecosystems, a feeling of ‘losing home while being in it’. Climate grief can be characterised by a perspective of a fading world, a lived experience of the loss of the present. Described as an earth-related state, it reflects the zeitgeist of our time. A perspective of a fading world and a state of fading-away is close to sensory deprivation. Disappearance of senses, one of the biggest human fears, can lead to intra-mental perception, echolocation and memory flashbacks. 

‘Fading Senses’ is a research project and a photographic essay where I examine how Solastalgia affects our mental and emotional health and research the implications of the absence of senses on brain mechanisms. As I have temporarily lost one of the senses in the past, this deprivation became my intuitive leading guide, which I have applied to the working method and to the visual language. I was also deeply affected by solastalgia and climate grief, due to the natural disaster which happened in Bory Tucholskie (Poland, 2017). During the process of photographing, I was drawn to places connected to the notion of anthropocentrism, supposed stability and protection, like socialist architecture, space of a zoo, a home for visually impaired or an acrobatic centre. Focusing on these places and on people who inhabit them, I searched for visual signs of disconnection, which reflect the feeling of insecurity. Turning my research into a speculative narration, with ‘Fading Senses’ I aim to create a mental image of an ungraspable sensation to underline human disconnection from the natural habitat and underline the alarming effects of climate change on mental and emotional health.

Fotomuseum Antwerp

.tiff 2022 magazine

“Ligia Poplawska’s portrait of a blind man is striking. I’ve seen this type of photograph before - famous examples preceed it - but this image is distinctive and comes to life in her series “Fading Senses”. Looking at someone who cannot see himself, makes us acutely aware of our alterity. We can never contain the reality of someone else: part of the other is always out of reach. This portrait will never be seen by its model, photography’s ability to construct and maintain a self-image is obstructed here. Poplawska extends alterity and identity crisis to global problems: we humans have to look long and hard in the mirror. The rapid decline of biodiversity is a fact and there is little doubt that our way of life is to blame. We share a parallel presence but are blind to what surrounds us. We seem unable to empathise with other lifeforms, other ways of thinking. These are still treated as natural resources to be exploited, which hinders meaningful interactions and coexistence. The solastalgic realisation that we degrade nature and are co-responsible for its decline, permeates Poplawska’s photographs. An image of a finger touching a flame suggests numbness and paralysis. The interior of a stately hall with a forest of marble-clad columns shows what remains once everything is transformed into material and status. Yet “Fading Senses” is more than a pessimistic lamentation, Ligia Poplawska invites us to abandon our delusional anthropocentrism to cultivate a truly sensitive outlook instead.”

Geert Goiris

PhMuseum Days 2021 Photo Festival
Winners Announced

“Ligia Popławska’s “Fading Senses” explores the emotional and mental implications on individuals from the growing disparity with their natural habitat. Drawing on her own experience of temporarily losing one of her senses, she takes us on an intimate and compassionate journey through deserted landscapes and abandoned interiors. Popławska provides an original observation of the relationship between people and their natural habitat. Her photographs of people and landscapes are punctuated with a lingering tension — a sense of suspension and serene stillness. She photographs with a deliberate aesthetic that is blunt, uncompromising and doesn’t try to hide behind anything. The photographs are meditative and consistent, gesturing something is about to happen or has just happened, leaving the viewer wondering, dreaming, fearing — altogether making this work both tempting and appealing to engage with time and time again”

Laura El Tantawy

Fading Senses




Olfactory Memory

© 2019-2023 Ligia Popławska