Paul Kwiatkowski’s photographs from his book ‘And Every Day Was Overcast’ are an audio, visual journey through the teenage years of a kid living in South Florida during the early 90s soaking up the world around him, looking to make sense of suburban inertia by abandoning himself in a wonderland of drugs, sex, violence and parties.
It is a tale from a pre digital era that was riding on a wave of anarchy, invention and creativity and bears many similarities to the work of the German artist Andreas Weinand whose series ‘Colossal Youth’ depicts a group of friends lost in a haze of drugs, alcohol, music and sex in Germany at the same time. A tale that has resonance for many who grew up in that era. It was a seminal moment in Modern history and Kwiatkowski uses text and audio – featuring Florida field recordings, interviews, animal sounds, ambient noise and electronic music – to weave a fictional tapestry that’s rooted in his own life, a distillation of memories, feelings, colours and sounds. As he says himself of the work:
Memories of childhood humanize us as adults. With age, our versions of that time are deformed then reassembled. What fragments bleed through are tailored to a narrative designed to hide vulnerability.
The pictures serve to reflect the vulnerability, rage and frustration of the young as they seek a sense of self, the chaos and recklessness propelling them down the road towards oblivion, all hanging on, hoping for the best, to get out the other side relatively unscathed. It is a story of disaffection, of bored kids taking acid, killing things and fucking. There is no point, no redemption no happy ending, it is as it is. Hard edged, ugly, sweaty and chaotic. Life without reason in the middle of nowhere. A snapshot of an America that’s lost without a past and has no hope of a future. Here’s what Kwiatowski had to say about Florida and the part it’s played in his art:
Even though Florida is a fucked place to grow up, I give partial credit to its topography for developing my imagination. Everything about Florida culture is in a constant state of flux, stagnation and contradiction, a geographical pastiche of retreat and fantasy. A place where anyone can easily vanish, commit a crime without punishment, start over or give up. I love that about the place.