Tomasz Lazar – Theater of Life

Tomasz Lazar

Theater of Life

In 2008 we began working on the long term project entitled ‘Theater of life’. Themes are the changes occurring in our society under the influence of culture and technology, which are increasingly present in our everyday lives.

Historically, Platon developed the notion of Theatrum Mundi – Theatre of the World. Place where a man is only a puppet, an actor whose role is to play its normal role on stage of life. Planned by the powerful being known as the creator (Demiurg, God). At present, the place of this being has been taken by mass media.  Mass media, with which we have to deal every day. They have increasingly greater impact on us, our life and behavior. People under the influence of mass culture that comes straight from the television or the Internet, get lost in the border of two worlds: the real world in which they live and the world created by the media.

Topics touched upon in his essay can best be seen in most developed countries. Places where people use more and more technology, areas in which technology, the media have the greatest impact on people. Therefore, a further stage of the project is to travel to places like Tokyo (Japan), New York (USA), Las Vegas (USA), Hong Kong and Sydney (Australia). As well as to further develop this theme in my home country and the countries adjacent to it.




I was born in Szczecin(Poland), 31th march 1985. Studied Information Technology at Westpomeranian University of Technology. During my studies I discovered photography . After several months I discovered that it is my passion and that is what i want to do in my life. After three years I decided to begin photography studies at the European Academy of Photography. I studied under the guidance of Tomasz Tomaszewski, Lorenzo Castore, Michael Ackerman, Isabel Jaroszewska and others. Since December 2010 I started being apprentice in the biggest studio in Poland – Makata, to develop my capabilities with using artificial light in practice. I was also involved in various workshops, like with Tomasz Tomaszewski on photojournalism and photo edition. At present, I am planning to expand on my photography knowledge by studying at the Institute of Creative Photography in Opava (the Czech Republic).
Currently I am working on a project titled Theatre of life, whose task is to move aspects of everyday life and cultural changes taking place in society as a result of the development of media and technology in the world.
I am interested in mainly the impact of various factors on human life (such as culture, technology). I get pleasure from every moment of being with people and the possibility of taking pictures.


Related links

Tomasz Lazar

46 Responses to “Tomasz Lazar – Theater of Life”

  • Inspiring …think I love #6 best.

  • I don’t get it.
    Picture #5 I like but again I don’t get it.

  • I don’t get it either. A fuzzy concept.

  • Let’s just stop right here, okay? These are amazing, terrific, wondrous, excellent, meaningful, beautiful photographs! Why is it on a web magazine devoted to emerging photographers we so often get bent out of shape with the artist statement when we should – and most times do not – simply sit back and enjoy the photographs? Why do we philosophize and ruminate on the meaning and context of an essay, and ignore the photographic skills of the essayist?

    These images are stunning, and I cannot find a weak one in the bunch. The style is consistent throughout, and I’m very impressed that a 26 year-old has such authorship. I love how the flash work slashes and ruptures these photographs; how the high-contrast printing works so well; how Tomasz works a variety of distances from his subject, and how effective his compositional skills are.

    Simply put, this essay excites the bejeezus out of me. Well done, Mr. Lazar! (As to your concept, you might want to read Martin Heidegger, especially how he places heroes in context to the presence or absence of technology.)

  • I’m not bent out of shape one bit. I sincerely do not get it. I did enjoy the photography but the concept is flying over my head that’s all.

  • Jeff if a photographer writes down his intentions and reasons for the images being created the statement should match the results. If they do not match then the work is not successfull in what it intended to communicate. The photographers choose to write their intentions they are not forced to wtite them. If they wanted you to look for the sake of it there would be no artist’s statement.

    Essays are not just about skills it ability to convey and articulate an idea to the audience, how to engage audience, creativing experiences posituve negative or whatever, etc
    Here there is clearly a loss of communication,

    Currently I am working on a project titled Theatre of life, whose task is to move aspects of everyday life and cultural changes taking place in society as a result of the development of media and technology in the world If that is the photoigraphers intent’then a fudemantal skill is to communicate this concept

  • I like this sort of thing and am happy to give them a lot of leeway about things such as fuzzy concepts. In this case, I can’t help looking a bit askance at something titled “Theater of Life.” That’s a big fucking title. Worthy of Herman Hesse. But what could possibly fall outside it? But still, at least it’s got a grand ambition and although I’m not sure it succeeds I’m not at all ready to say that it fails.

    Photowise, I like many of the compositions. But other than the first pic, I suspect that the best compositions have been overly photoshopped. I suspect they would be much more interesting with the shadows where, and how deep — or not — the shadows should be. Just a suspicion, mind you, I’m sure a lot of it’s just a matter of interpretation and reasonable people can disagree.

  • If that is the photographers, intent then a fudemantal skill ishe ability to communicate this /her concept

  • If that is the photographers, intent then a fudemantal skill is the ability to communicate his/her concept……………………. and learn to type better in my case

  • #9
    i feel that……
    in my own….
    theater of life….

  • Tomasz
    This is brilliant stuff.

    All, check out Tomasz’s site. A much larger edit, then check out his Occupy Wall street stuff, the best I’ve seen.

  • I’m with Jeff and Gordon on this one. The photos are beautiful, striking, sophisticated, and mysterious, and show a well developed common visual style. I learned from the early days of BURN to not even try to read the artists’ statements.

  • That means that the intentions of the photographer doesn’t matter as long as they are beautiful, striking, sophisticated, and mysterious, that is all a photographer has to do. I am sure that Natchway, Gilden, Salgado, Webb, Harvey, every photojournalist that lifted a camera, fashion photographer, sports photographer etc will be in full agreement with you they just want to do things that “”look good”” ……….. ??????????????

  • Now we know why some photographers don’t include captions with their photographs: they cause a storm of controversy! I recently submitted a work in progress here and it took me three bloody days to write the intro – and I now can’t remember what I wrote!

    I like the photographs very much,Tomasz, congratulations on being published here and welcome to the bear pit that is comments (laughing).

    Next time I submit here I think I’ll just write “I took these photographs because something in my soul moved me to take them Hope you like them”. Or perhaps quote Shakespeare “All the world’s a stage,
    And all the men and women merely players; ….”?

    Nice one Tomasz,


  • First of all: Congrats, Tomasz, for being published here on BURN!

    I haven’t been around for a while – and it felt REALLY good to see that the comments section (or “Bear pit” as Mike R called it) is still alive! And I can see a lot of valid points in the above comments. Yes, Imants, the artist’s statement should be in balance with the photographic work. And yes, Sidney, it’s probably wiser (at least most of the time) not to read the statement at all – and yes, I think that’s not how it should be.
    And Michael, yeah, I totally agree, “Theater of life” is a hell of a big title…

    What also felt good coming back, is the broad variety of photographic essays here on BURN. It does not matter that I cannot relate to every single photograph or essay I see here, but I surely enjoy seeing different visual styles – and I like Tomasz’s style, especially in #1 and 8, and his composition in #7.

    So again, congrats, Tomasz!
    And thanks to that wonderful bear pit!

  • JEFF

    i am with YOU 100%…these are some of the very best images we have seen on Burn..let me re phrase..for my sensibility these are amazing photographs!! .the photographer, like MOST photographers, coulda shoulda improved his artist statement..but yes there seems to be more of a judgment on the artist statement than on the photographs…pictures like these are rare….

    cheers, david


    not sure your point….what do you mean by photographers who are making images to “look good”?

    of course photographs should “look good”…

    we do not listen to them, we do not read them, we look at them….from one eye to another eye….

    not sure what you mean, but whatever it is i am sure you are making a good point, i just do not know quite what it is… :)

    cheers, david

  • Last night in response to the above comments, I was going to say that even if Lazar had written an artist statement describing the ten stages of perogie-making as the preamble to his photography, I still would have been more than satisfied by the visual half. But self-counsel got the better of me, I slept on it, and this morning reviewed the artist statement, which admittedly had thrown me at first glance, and now I see quite clearly the bridge between the written and the photographed.

    Tomasz uses Plato’s “Cave Metaphor” as his starting point. Maybe Platon is the Polish spelling, maybe this is an English as a second language issue, maybe there is a problem in interpretation on either side, but this went over my head at first. I’ve never heard of the Theatre Mundi either, but this replaces the cave-as-metaphor that we in the west are more familiar with.

    In the cave, Plato places man viewing shadows on the wall, with illumination coming from a fire within the cave, and behind the man. This is man at the first level of understanding reality, accepting the superficiality of the shadow, the illusion, as the real. In stages man comes to deeper understandings of truths; first is the shadow-as-reality, then comes the realization of the shadow-as-illusion; then the source of the shadow (the fire); man eventually realizes he is in a cave, and with difficulty walks out into the real world which is illuminated by the sun. Every stage of realization and growth comes with hard work, and the voyage is a difficult one. Plato points out that the journey of wisdom, of separating reality from illusion, is extremely uncomfortable.

    So, in image #1, we see man as a little boy, illuminated solely by flash, protected and comforted by the hand of an adult. The first level of understanding. Image #2 takes us to the cave (the apartments), and the bridge to media comes from first: the windows-as-television-screens, and second: the very odd placement of numbers on each window, as if our world view is simply that of various channels. Image #3 presents the awareness of the cave-fire, and Plato’s shadow-makers. The fact that the hip-hop dancers are performing, suggests that our view of reality is still that of one of puppetry. Number 4: Man is now aware of the internal fire (the glowing cigarette), is over top of it, and at the same time is just beginning to be aware of the external Light (the street lamp). Five shows the integration of stage and life quite cleverly, and the beginning of separation between reality and illusion. Six indicates the final stage, and the most difficult for Plato, wherein Man leaves the Cave and enters the blinding light of the sun.

    Afterword, and in the following images, we come aware of the differing stages of understanding. I especially like image seven. It is first an interesting throwback to Robert Frank’s famous bus shot, but it also neatly illustrates Plato’s various stages of understanding the reality/illusion dichotomy simultaneously. The billboard becomes the shadows on the wall, the bus is the cave, and the people in the bus are either asleep, watching the shadows, or looking outward into the sun; all metaphorically at various levels of realization. Number ten takes us even further, where the real and unreal worlds merge. The woman is protecting herself from the sunlight with her umbrella, but the whole image has the feel of a stage – the interplay of subjects and objects of experience and concomitant audience-art-artist implications.

    Thus on second glance, Lazar absolutely nails his artist’s statement with his photography. I still believe we place too much importance on the statement/photograph connection (even though I haven’t proved so in this post). I know the Burn editors have a monumental task of simply poring through 500 essays a month just to post one a week. Perhaps the artist statement should be seen as a secondary consideration, minor to the visual impact of the camera work.

  • First I looked at the photographs, then I read the statement. Looking at just the images I could not figure out what this was. It seemed to me like random photos….and they are to some extent.
    Then I was compelled to read the statement to try and have some sort of understanding or at least try to understand what the photographer is trying to say. I still do not really get it.
    I can come up (and have) with explanations of my own but I don’t think this was meant to be open to interpretation. We all do it anyways but that is not the point no?
    We all relate to what our senses perceive differently. No mystery there.
    Visually wise….yes…these are great images but I feel confused looking at them and specially reading the intention behind them.
    Perhaps that’s part of the puppetry he mentions and I am just following my role :)

  • This is my first time posting on Burn and the reason I chose to do it on this project is despite the disparity between some of the comments, I personally love the work shown here by Tomasz. I agree that the story of the pictures might be difficult to follow given what was written about the project and the intention he was trying to gear it towards, but as far as photographic quality I found the images to be absolutely amazing. One of my favorite Burn projects I have seen in some time.

    Thanks for sharing this one with us.

  • Jeff!
    Thanks for that. I did not pick up the Plato reference. Shakespeare’s “all the world’s a stage” came to my mind. Tomaz’s very clever use of flash from below to mimic the look of footlights certainly re-inforces the suggestion of theatre.
    Aside from the theme, many of these photographs are just pure dead brilliant on their own. #7, the bus picture is an amazing example and my hands down favourite here. #9 is also fantastic, as are #1 and #5.

    Killer stuff

  • Maybe a suggestion: that photographers write the text not from the idea of what they thought their essay was about, but directly from the pictures they took. Like, forget what you were after, puzzle yoursef over what you’ve been out doing, coming up with these shots, think old rimbaud verse “I is another”.

    The texts here on BURN always add a rigidity of intent that I believe the idea of photography, and simply looking at photographs too, continuously defeats. And I think since all photos are framed within square or a rectangle, obviously, something is always staged and very few do not end up being a “theater of life”. Not a big title, and not saying much, if there is a definite concept behind the essay (theater of life not being a concept)

    If the essay stays under 50 comments, David was on the money, it’s one of the great ones on BURN. :-)))

    I agree with Imants (again!). There is good that engages you, and there is good that comes from “nice!”, no questions asked. As David told us many times, he is against the idea of the public voting for awards, and that’s exactly why. the good/nice, resounding,and visually, emotionally identifiable pictures would win out. Definitely BURN is about not just finding pictures “good”, however they may be that too.

  • David I was responding to what Sidney stated his attitude is that the photographers intent is not an integral part of the process.
    I have no problems with the photographer’s project but unfortunately that goal is not translated visually

  • Strong intriguing single visual photo puzzles which I bloody love. I haven’t the faintest idea where it’s taking me and I don’t give a damn either because I’m too busy enjoying them as single images. I keep staring, being pulled in, refreshing like eye drops after a very late night with bloodshot eyes.

  • “…I was responding to what Sidney stated his attitude is that the photographers (sic) intent is not an integral part of the process…

    Actually, I didn’t state that at all! Nor did I intend to state that! I can however understand how someone might jump to that (only partly erroneous, I admit) conclusion based on what I DID say… but I am surprised that that someone would be Imants, who is often so critical of people who read more into things that he states than is actually there… I figured he of all people would be sensitive about not putting words into other people’s mouths!

    What I was trying to suggest by my somewhat flippant and facetious statement about not reading artists’ statements, especially on Burn but really almost anywhere, is not that I think the artist’s intent doesn’t matter, but rather that “artist statements” as a genre rarely communicate that intent very well… I have read a lot of “artists’ statements” over the years, not just in photography but even more in painting, sculpture, installations, music, etc. and my personal response is that something like 80 to 90% of the contents of such statements are more or less bullshit. There may be nuggets of real gold in there somewhere, and I apologize to anyone who feels that they have labored over an artist’s statement that truly, eloquently, and succinctly expresses what their intent is, but my experience has not made me eager to take artists’ statements too seriously or expect too much from them.

    Beyond that, however, I admit there are interesting and important philosophical (and maybe ethical and moral as well) questions about an artist’s intent and the work that is produced. I naturally hesitate to assume that I know what Imants is talking about without his further clarification, but IF he means what I think he is saying, then yes, we have some pretty big disagreements about what art is, who artists are, and where value in art comes from. And how much conscious control most of us have, or should have, or might want to have, in the exercise of visual communication. But I will refrain from attempting to represent his position… I’m sure he can do it very effectively himself, and I would almost certainly get it wrong.

    In some ways I like what Mike R. wrote above as his generic “statement of intent”: … “I took these photographs because something in my soul moved me to take them Hope you like them”….

    Of course, there’s usually more to it than that. I believe that intent is important, of course, but I also believe it is sometimes vague, often mutable, perhaps difficult even for the artist to understand, difficult to articulate, and subject to radical revision. But for some reason art schools and galleries and museums love these “artist statements” (and here I thought the artist’s “statement” was the photos or works of art themselves) and expect them, so we end up mostly with pretentious puff pieces that have little to do with the real act of artistic imagination or creation. And the ‘process’ is not just one of translating an intent into visual material, but the whole act of engagement and creation, which includes not only taking the pictures and processing them, but the approach to the subject (‘natch) as well as how, when, where, and to whom the pictures are shown… each of those steps is a stage of ongoing discovery about both the world and about ourselves… and also about the images which, once they are out in the world, take on a life of their own which may completely confound the original intent. But I wouldn’t judge such images as being “unsuccessful” except in a very narrow and deterministic way… rather, the process of discovery continues to unfold… and may cause us to revise or even abandon our original intent. That I would call part of learning and enlightenment, exactly what I believe should be one of (one of, not the only) the values and goals of art.

  • Sidney, I was going to add that once our photographs are shared with others they take on a life of their own and read your post “images which, once they are out in the world, take on a life of their own which may completely confound the original intent …”. We concur; but you are more eloquent.


  • Artists statements are very important on a site like burn and is not about pretentious stuff it is a means by which the artist is able to understand his/her intentions in creating the work, gauge its success as a piece of work via audience response and if needed give the audience direction if they feel a need to clarify their intentions.
    In this case Tomasz saw fit to give a statement of intent as it is a work in progress and he states that there is further development to come not a completed piece.
    Sidney don’t turn it into a personal attack on me as a person as you have in the above it is about the work presented. This is your statement “I learned from the early days of BURN to not even try to read the artists’ statements.” and that is what I am responding to.

  • Theatrum mundi..from wikipedia

    The Theatrum mundi ( large theater in the world in French ) is a Baroque concept which inspired many writers of France , of Italy and of Spain ‘s Golden Age , which began at the end of the XVI th century in the Peninsula Iberian .

    Things all play a role, consciously or unwillingly, on the main stage of the world and are puppets whose strings are pulled by the great watchmaker, the demiurge of the work that is reality or fiction such as “the Creator “double figure of God and the author in The Grand Theatre in the world of Pedro Calderon de la Barca , or the mage Alcandre of L’Illusion comique by Pierre Corneille , two characters from which laid the baroque tragedians questions of divine power supernatural or the director, as the Almighty.

    It should be seen reading the world through drama and staging. The actor and the character played by the latter reflect the very image of the viewer is already lured a player in the universe. The process of mise en abyme could serve this central idea of the tragi-comedy show that gives no less than three realities embedded into each other. As a result, the actor is seen by a spectator himself stared at by another witness, and so on.

    This metaphor is rooted in the ancient Greek thinkers, especially in Epictetus . Thus, in his interviews , Epictetus introduced the concept of role for the man in the world, a role that man should not go beyond that and provides for him as a duty to the gods (There is also the metaphor of theatrical mask).

    We find this baroque allegory into the great tragi-comedy of the XVII th century , in The True Saint-Genest of Rotrou Jean particular.

    Shakespeare conveys this same idea in his work, as illustrated by these quotes:

    “The whole world’s a stage /
    And all men and women merely players that /
    And our life we ​​play many roles. ”
    As You Like It

    “I want this world to what it is: a theater where everyone must play its part.”
    The Merchant of Venice

    I’d was not familiar with this term

  • Art schools education institutions use artists statements as a learning /teaching tool not a means to an end. Galleries use them to inform the public most of whom are not immersed in the art world and have little contact with art language, sure it is not always successful but assists more than detracts from the work. A lot of the statements can be wrong and disconnected from the work but that is how an artist learns by questioning and trying to understand what/ how/why they are presenting it to the audience. The work here is for an audience not for the sole viewing by the photographer otherwise it would not be here.

  • Sidney maybe you could assist with some images of your own a link perhaps.It would give one an insight and understanding into your aesthetic and conceptual stance. That helps to see where you are coming from

  • I find myself horrified by the idea that it is necessary to make a statement of intent about a work of art, especially a narrative work of art. Novelists rarely, if ever, make a statement of intent about their work and if they do it comes in an interview somewhere, not on the bleeding book jacket. I don’t see why this kind of thing should be any different. The work itself is the statement of intent. And maybe the title or other associated text provides a clue.

  • Gordon, educational; Imants, illuminating.

    Artist / photographer …. photographer / artist?

    Room for everyone here, artist statement optional; everyone welcome.

  • off topic….

    Imants, I really like what you have up in your page right now!
    the blank pages…the anticipation…the clues….it put me on edge.
    The crow.

  • mw so you would not even ask yourself before you take some photos create a narrative….. This is what intend to do. Working from a complete vacum? are we

  • Thanks Carlo it is a work in progress not my usual way of working. I started with 29 blank pages and gradually places text and visuals rearrange reset etc over a period of time. The work is based on the idea of consumption ofmeat and why we eat “named friends” the non human kind. It works as a book but I am not sure whether it will be the case digitally so I am traveling this path

  • Imants, no, I think long and hard about the intent of my (non-journalistic) work but feel the work itself is the statement. Maybe it has something to do with being more from a literary background than a photographic one, but I can’t help but feel that explaining one’s intent is somewhat tacky. The narrative should be interesting enough that the audience wants to figure it out, as we see with Thomasz’s work.


    1. Keep it short.

    2. Keep it simple.

    3. If your artist’s statement sounds like you are patting yourself on the back, you are. Stop stroking your ego and rewrite the statement without the testimonial. People want to know about your work, not how wonderful you are.

    4. If your biography sounds like your mother could have written it, stop and rewrite. No one is interested in your mom’s opinion of your life, except when she brings up the really embarrassing crap you don’t want anyone to know. That’s always a hoot.

    5. Avoid the passive voice. Politicians invented the passive voice to avoid taking responsibility for their actions; if you use the passive voice, you are on the side of Wall Street and The Man. Deal with it.

    6. Lay off the adjectives and the adverbs, which is always something I have a problem with, to be honest. Write with nouns and verbs.

    7. Have something to say. That always helps.

    Follow the advice above and you will grow rich and be successful with women. Really. And AKAKY IRL will not shoot you.

  • Imants,

    you just reminded me of George Bernard Shaw:

    “Animals are my friends…and I don’t eat my friends.”

  • Explaining intent is a wonderful learning tool for all helps our understanding In the distance Mick punches Ian we hear a sound Mick yells out “Bastard” ………… things are starting to get clearer to the bystanders.

  • Here we have images and a statement the photographer has chosen to do that and it would be a disservice to ignore either. Maybe it is because the images are so strong that they are at odds with the text makes the whole thing work on a robust level.

  • I admit rushing to judgment here as well. At first I was simply lost as to the connection between image and statement, however, after viewing the original edit on your website, I get it. I think this is not a failure in artist statement, and certainly not intent, but simply editing for Burn Magazine.

    This tighter edit is to be commended for a concise and awe-inspiring point of view – but not for the title nor intent. This edit is much more about theater – not mass media. It is a tragedy filled with choreographed climax and soliloquy. It is as if each actor knew their part and took it over-the-top. Congrats on making this feeling so palpable – quite a beautiful edit indeed! That said, other commentators are corrected: This edit and this statement have a disconnect, which threatens not only your statement and intent, but ultimately, your images.

    After viewing the full edit – a stunning testament to your abilities – I see the digital/mass media/technology aspect in full, and appreciate the series in a totally different light.

    What a fantastic lesson in editing and artist statement! It would be a true pleasure to leave these images to each viewer’s own interpretation (with the title alone – what a title it is!) and leave the words aside. I think so often images need to be left alone – no caption, no statement – simply a personal visual understanding of the world.

    Congrats Tomasz, on an amazing series and the debate you have unknowingly triggered!

    P.S. Ouch, just finished reading some of the comments, I hope you take them for what they are – everyone here is a critic, few could put together such a beautiful series or statement! Keep shooting!

  • On this one, I went back to my old practice of looking at the images before reading the text. I greatly enjoyed the images. They all spoke their own little stories to me. Excellent.

    Afterwards, I did read the text. I thought this line particularly true and relevant:

    “I get pleasure from every moment of being with people and the possibility of taking pictures.”

    Yes, Tomasz, you do, you rose to the possibility, hit it and I can see it.

  • Some great images — I like the website edit better, but hey. Thanks for featuring the series, and congratulations Tomasz.

    As an aside, there seems to be a strong strain of thought in the comments that any concept must be narrative, descriptive and simple. This risks coming off in some places as anti-intellectual. Interesting concepts and real stories are fuzzy, complex and mostly impossible to convey completely or perfectly. Insisting on neatness and a perfect fit insults a thinking audience the way Hollywood films generally do.

  • Hi all,

    Firstly, congrats to the Burn team for a great initiative. Thanks for supporting budding young photographers.

    Next: Tomazs, I really like some of the images. Some of the others on your site caught my eye too.
    Keep going bro, your images are inventive and full of life. Not many people out there can genuinely say that.

    I thought I’d mention that this project reminds me a bit of the excellent ‘Dream / Life’ by Trent Parke, viewable on the Magnum site. Check it out mate, if you haven’t already.

    Regarding the personal statement, I do agree that perhaps it could be narrowed/focused a bit -maybe it is a bit too wide. But personal statements are tough, and I feel it does make better sense as part of the longer edit.

    Keep up the good work guys, it is SO good to see these projects. Fascinating.

  • I like the photos, a lot. The statement seems irrelevant.
    The theater of life is a broad subject but then again numerous excellent projects/essays/books have a broad, all-encompassing subject on their title.

Comments are currently closed.