Matt Borkowski is a Brooklyn, NY based photographer focused on minimalism and environmental portraiture. His extensive artistic background includes work in graphic and web design, fashion and literature.
To most, Venice is a world of mystery. Almost instinctively, images of winding canals, narrow alley ways and gondolas rush through people’s minds. To be honest, I didn’t quite know what to expect of this city upon arrival, but after spending time in this old, soulful, mysterious place, the only thing that I am sure of is that I need to be back there.
My fiancé and I arrived by airplane from Palermo at around 8:30 in the morning, grabbed our bags in an all too familiar pattern after three weeks of travel and made our way toward public transportation. We boarded a bus that we knew we wouldn’t need to pay for (or at least could get away without doing so) and made our way towards Venice’s main island. After somehow maneuvering an un-rollable suitcase with wheels past the train station, down the main cobble stone street and through the shopfronts, we finally were able to drop off our luggage at our hotel. Seemingly, as usual for our journey, check-in wasn’t for another six hours, so the day was ours, and more importantly, Venice was ours. Without directions, baggage or commitments we set off to explore perhaps one of the most fascinatingly beautiful places on earth.
We found ourselves stumbling our way through alleys and piazzas, up and over small bridges and through breezeways all in a semi-dazed state, trying to absorb what it really was that we were seeing. Days were spent pushing our way through tour groups to areas just out of reach from the eyes (and schedules) of these hordes, and in doing so, we discovered the truly beautiful, unique people that make up Venice’s dwindling population of full-time residents. These Veneziani form one of the most unique cultures still remaining in the Western world; their dialect, habits and cuisine (when not catered to tourists) are still unique to the region. However, with the masses of visitors (myself included, I guess) pouring into their home on a daily basis, this culture is more and more hidden with each passing day.
Several weeks later and several thousands of miles away in Brooklyn, I had arrived home and was sorting through photos from the trip. More than any other images, the portraits of these Veneziani stood out to me as something solely representative of this sinking locale. Strangers in their own city and totally oblivious to the everyday hustle and worry to visit one of Venice’s many tourist attractions that non-residents might experience while visiting, these people quietly carry on with their lives. Each one of these subjects, however, seems to encapsulate and share the following qualities: calm, steady, wise, sincere and weathered (just like their home).
To learn more about Matt and his work, please visit the following website: www.mattborkowski.com.