March 4 – June 3, 2019
“Solitude of Travel” documents a period of persistent travel: in the space of a decade, I passed through some 60 countries on 4 continents, often repeatedly and for prolonged periods of time. I traveled without any overarching reason or direction, but I think even then I suspected that the pressing impulse to board yet another flight had to do with confronting a stubborn (and maybe endemic to immigrants) sense of displacement.
Steady movement through national boundaries gave me an illusion of global familiarity: new places seemed immediately recognizable upon arrival, if only by virtue of sharing features and characteristics with somewhere else I’d visited. But, at the same time, each location felt distant and inaccessible. And the sense of separation spread to places where I had lived for years, so that my connection to any one spot weakened and faded. It was a liberating sense of disorientation, and a disorienting sense of liberty. It was also deeply isolating: paradoxically, as I grew attached to new places, I simultaneously felt connected to everywhere and nowhere.
The photographs I took during this time are a testament to the constant sense of remove. I think of them as a set of anti-postcards: whereas the typical travel photo celebrates arrival at recognizable destinations, usually in saturated color, most of the black and whites in this series document places that aren’t on the tourist map. Moreover, though the pictures ostensibly document places, in reality they capture my own sense of steady separation: they are invariably framed from a distance, and, in all of them, the ultimate destination I might have longed—that is, the elusive sense of home and immersion—remains unreachable.
Paul is a filmmaker as well as a media and tech lawyer. His films have been featured on the New York Times Op-Docs, the Atlantic, and the New Yorker, and have been shown at festivals internationally, including AFI Docs, Big Sky, Clermont-Ferrand, Doc NYC, Slamdance, and TIFF. His photos have been exhibited in the US and Europe, including ICP in New York City and the Leica Gallery in Warsaw.
Paul was born in Warsaw, Poland, and moved to NYC at the age of 12, the year that the city’s transit fare rose from 75 cents to 90 cents; 33 previously unknown Bach pieces were found in an academic library; and Canon demoed its first digital still camera. Besides New York City and Warsaw, he’s lived in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Alexandria (VA), Berkeley, New Haven, Philadelphia, NJ, DC, and, for shorter periods, Kampala and Berlin. During his seven drives across the US, he’s visited the vast majority of the contiguous states, and, by train, plane or automobile, he’s also visited some 60 countries. He likes stray dogs, fair use, depressing movies, trains, Greene and Kundera, Uganda, open source software, the Oxford comma, and occasionally translating Polish poetry to English.
Paul is a graduate of Columbia University, where he studied history and philosophy, and Yale Law School, where he focused on free speech and intellectual property, and watched a lot of reruns and depressing movies.