Kuba Stępień, Mana

Curator: Karol Hordziej


Mana is energy. It cuts through all of the material world, whether animate or seemingly lifeless. In traditional Polynesian faith, mana is the power of nature manifesting itself, creating a bridge between various kinds of being.

It seems that the industrialisation and consumerism of contemporary societies have made them insensitive to the energy of the universe. As we rush about, packed into the tight spaces of our cars, apartments, and offices, we increasingly see only the surface, missing the depth of reality that hides beneath what is visible at a glance. We are satisfied with simple solutions, though we feel as though something is missing.

Mana records a search for the omnipresent force. The creative use of photography lets us cross the boundaries of human perception, and cull the essence from landscapes, objects, and people. Here the energy of the surroundings interacts with the energy of the viewer, his or her spiritual state, emotions, and needs. Mana proves that “everything flows”, or rather, flows on by—but for everyone, perhaps, on different tides.

Text by: Oliwia Kacprzak



Kuba Stępień (1997, Łódź)

I was born in Łódź and spent the first seventeen years of my life in Bełchatów, primarily pursuing music and theatre. Both are still important aspects of my life, and both permeate every one of my pieces, but it was photography that gave me the broadest range of means with which to express myself. At nineteen, after graduating from high school, I moved to Krakow and took up photography in earnest. I studied sociology at the Jagiellonian University for a year, and what I learned over that period definitely influenced my perception of the image. Currently, I’m enrolled at the Photography Academy in Krakow and at the Jagiellonian University, where I’m studying cultural texts. I’ve been shooting pictures with my small analogue camera ever since I was three years old. I do this to bend reality, to explore it, provoke and manipulate it. I try to domesticate and control the forces of nature and harness them for their energy. My work offers a reflection on my own nature, a reflection intended for a society that no longer has the will to understand and therefore must necessarily turn towards emotion and experience.