"They left clothes strewn around, unmade beds, open books, the TV turned on, as if they were about to come back soon. They left their rooms unprepared for emptiness.
Every year, the Polish police file 15,000 missing person reports. Every day, the faces of missing people gaze out from posters designed to attract our attention; yet, every passing day, they are noticed less. We become as immune to these posters, as we do to their faces. Only those who have lost someone in these circumstances can begin to imagine the pain these families are going through. Their feelings teeter between loss and hope. Often the rooms of the missing lost ones are left untouched, for several months, years, and even decades.
The individual stories differ amongst each other, but each raises questions: What happened? Where is he/she? When will he/she be back? Is there anything else we can do to find him/her? Is she/he suffering? Is he/she alive?
I travelled 7,200 km throughout the country to visit their homes. During each visit, I photographed the rooms of the missing with the permission of their families. These intimate portraits of frozen lives, time standing still, reflect a memory: an armchair in the corner with carefully folded rugs, a room with a clock collection, or an animal print throw immaculately arranged on a sofa; these are the tangible marks and evidence of existence. Somebody lived in these places; somebody was there, sitting at the table, sleeping on the sofa, living.
In addition, I also photographed the portraits that remained of the missing people in a very individual and subjective way. Each intimate portrait is a metaphor to a time that stands still, and an attempt to hold on to the memory of each unique life. Often it is not possible to recall information, or associations, which is testament to the slow, but inevitable process of forgetting. Each family also gave me a handwritten letter addressed to the missing loved one.
This project seeks to reinvigorate the efforts to find the missing, and to create awareness of the immense pain caused by the loss of a loved one, who one day went missing—by highlighting the plight of those who are missed and those who miss them. On a personal level, the project also serves as an exploration of the link between depression and disappearance.
My goal is to raise awareness of the missing both in Poland and worldwide."
Karolina Jonderko was born in 1985 in a small town in Silesia Region in Poland. She is a student of photography at the Polish National Film, Television and Theatre School in Lodz, Poland. She has taken photos since she was 18. Most of her works are based on experience and childhood memories. Karolina has been chosen for the prestigious mentor program of Napo Images.
The featured photographer for July 2014 was Karolina Jonderko