Title of the document


Sensitive TerritoriesTitle of the document



2023 - ongoing

The 'Sensitive Territories' series aims to shed light on the vulnerability of non-human entities such as trees, plants, and stones, which are constantly at risk of disappearing from the Portuguese landscape. Two elements of matter, fire and water, are a recurring threat to Portugal’s precious ecosystems. These elements evoke ancient mythologies, such as the one of Phoenix rising from the ashes, symbolising duality of a destructive force and a new beginning. Shot in 2023 in the mountain regions that have been affected by recent wildfires, namely Serra da Estrela Natural Park and Serra da Freita, as well as in Pedrógão Grande, this research project focuses on the processes of disappearance, prevention, resistance and rebirth. This body of work is a continuation of the 'Fading Senses' project, which explores the emotions of climate grief and solastalgia, and delves into the impact of climate change on our senses.


  • Bienal’23 Fotografia do Porto, “Acts of Empathy”, Porto (solo)

    This series was exhibited in a solo exhibition “Fading Senses, Sensitive Territories” at Bienal’23 Fotografia do Porto in a theme ACTS OF EMPATHY at Salut au Monde! Gallery, thanks to Ci.CLO Plataforma Fotografia. CiCLO (Porto, Portugal) is a platform for artistic research, production and intervention in the medium of photography that establishes a transdisciplinary relationship with other artistic, environmental and social fields to critically address the emergencies of our time. Interview from the biennale can be found here.


  • Research supported with a scholarship for Emerging Talents from the Flemish Government


  • 2 images from this series are available for collectors as unique NFTs in a first photography drop ‘Structures’ by Unveil

Sensitive Territories


Bienal’23 Fotografia do Porto


Fading SensesTitle of the document



2019 - 2023

What happens if we lose our senses? In times of multispecies extinction and devastating effects caused by climate change, environmental anxiety is a rising problem affecting societies, perceived by scientists to be one of the biggest mental health issues of the near future. Fading Senses is a research project and a photographic essay which explores the emotions of climate grief and solastalgia, and delves into the impact of climate change on our senses. The term solastalgia, coined twenty years ago by the Australian environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht, describes both the emotional shock and the feeling of distress that can be experienced when confronted with the sudden disappearance of a previously familiar landscape. Described as an earth-related state, it reflects the zeitgeist of our time, manifesting itself in a feeling of dislocation, a lived experience of the loss of the present. A perspective of a fading world and a state of fading-away is close to sensory deprivation. Absence of senses, one of the biggest human fears, can lead to intramental perception, echolocation and memory flashbacks.

This series was inspired by a hundred-year-old Tuchola Forest. A rich biosphere reserve recognised by UNESCO and one of the biggest forests in Central Europe, used to look like something out of a fairytale. Over one summer night in 2017, an extraordinary windstorm turned this home to beavers, red deers, elks, and eagle owls, among other species, into an apocalyptic wasteland. After the storm, there was no more sound of the birds, no more smells, no view of the forest. Being strongly affected by this disappearance and by the experience of temporary loss of sense of smell, I recognised how deeply climate change can affect our senses and emotions. Turning my research into a speculative narration, with ‘Fading Senses’ I aim to create a mental image of an ungraspable sensation to underline the alarming effects of climate change on mental and emotional health.


  • Nominee - Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2023
  • 1st Prize Winner - Decade of Change Series Award 2022, 1854 British Journal of Photography
  • Talent - FUTURES Photography 2022 nominated by FOMU Antwerp
  • Finalist - Helsinki Photo Festival
  • Selection .tiff 2022 - FOMU Fotomuseum Antwerpen
  • 1st Prize Winner - PhMuseum Days 2021 International Photo Festival
  • Finalist - New Talents, Photographic Exploration Project
  • Winner - Photography Prize 2020, Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp


  • Research supported with a scholarship for Emerging Talents from the Flemish Government (2022-2023)

  • Encontros da Imagem, “Essay for the Future”, Braga (solo)
  • Bienal’23 Fotografia do Porto, “Acts of Empathy”, Porto (solo)
  • De Brakke Grond, “.tiff 2022. Emerging Belgian Photography”, Amsterdam (group)
  • FOMU, “.tiff 2022. Emerging Belgian Photography”, Antwerp (group)
  • InCadaques Photo Festival, “Decade of Change” (duo)
  • Belfast Photo Festival, “Decade of Change” (group)
  • Helsinki Photo Festival, “Believe” (group)
  • PEP, “New Talents” (group) 
  • St. Vincents, “Fading Senses”, Antwerp (solo)
  • Marcel Nies Oriental Art Gallery, “Fading Senses”, Antwerp (solo)
  • Graduation show 2020 Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp hosted by FOMU Antwerp

MFA graduation project at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp (2019 - 2020), under guidance of Geert Goiris, Inge Henneman, Peter Boelens. Project continued after graduation. 

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




© 2019-2023 Ligia Popławska