Kamil Śleszyński (1982) – self-taught documentary photographer, author of photo books. Co-founder of Światło/siła Foundation. His work focuseson complex topics related to social isolation and identity. He lives and works in Podlasie, Poland.
Do You know what it’s like to be overwhelmed by fear? Total kind. The kind I felt when they opened the cell. You’re entering and there is this little bulb shining, 30W at most. You can barely see anything. Walls all singed, blackened. Beds weren’t better. Air was stinking and stifling, medium-sized window with net, grates and a wall two meters behind it. There was almost no light from that window. As if You entered the basement. Only three times worse. Hole. You consider yourself a normal person and there are only degenerates. Bald, skinny. Or the other way around – muscular. You’re standing there and saying to yourself: “Dear God. What the fuck have I got myself into?!”. Then immediate fear. They’re gonna get you. I wasn’t able to sleep for two weeks. Every night I had my eyes wide open. Later, when I got used to it, I slept very well.
I have never slept that well in my life. Habits stayed with me. At home you’re switching the light off, in prison you don’t. One time I was at a hostel with a friend of mine. Conditions were so bad, we felt like in a cell. And there were bunk beds. And we waited for someone to come and switch the light off. That night was the first time I slept as well as in prison. I felt safe.