Headshot: Magda Biernat

Magda Biernat

New York, NY

Magda Biernat (b.1978) was born and raised in Poznan, Poland. In 2002, after obtaining her Masters in Marketing and Management from Adam Mickiewicz University and BFA in Photography from Wielkopolska School of Photography, she moved to the United States settling down in Seattle, WA. After two years in the North West, she decided to move to New York and started working at Magnum Photos. Surrounded by great photojournalistic works at Magnum she turned her interests towards a different specialty, and began photographing architecture and interiors. Besides freelancing for different architecture offices and design studios, she works as a Photo Editor at Metropolis Magazine. In 2007 she decided to leave her steady life in New York and took off for a year long trip around the world. While traveling to more than 17 countries she worked on her personal projects concerning urban landscape and habitat. She is currently enrolled in an MFA program at the Transart Institute. Biernat has been exhibited internationally since 2001 with solo exhibitions in Poland, Belgium and the United States. She is a recipient of many awards such as TMC/Kodak Grant, Lucie Award, Magenta Foundation and Photographic Center Northwest Photo-Op. She currently lives and works in New York City.


Space, light, color and the relationship of elements to each other are the key components of my photographs. Guided by an interest in urbanism and habitation, I focus my work on the built environment and its influence on global societies.

Inhabited is the result of my explorations into the world's private and public spaces searching for differences and commonalities. Between 2007 and 2008 I spent a year traveling around the world, taking photographs across 17 countries: South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, India, Nepal, Thailand, Laos, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Malaysia. Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Mongolia and China.

Throughout the journey I pointed my camera towards unusual architectural forms such as  “transplanted” German colonial houses in Namibia or concrete utopian pod village on the northeast coast of Taiwan. I wanted to use my photography to convey a sense of optimism and joy at being in the world. The core vision was to recognize the integrity of the way people live under different, in many cases, extraordinary conditions.

The world's cultures may be very different, but when seen through a consistent lens in terms of simple geometry, the complexities of cultural variation fall away. Here I turn my camera onto the ordinary details of everyday life, past the complexities of race, religion or cultural differences and onto the similarities of the mundane. I look into the quiet spaces where people sleep, rest, or work. My first priority was to examine the design and atmosphere of culturally diverse spaces and as I did so I saw beyond diversity to a consistency in the way we lead our lives.

The buildings and interiors I've shot serve the same purpose no matter where they are found. Stripped of obvious cultural references and detached from their surroundings, they gain a kind of disorienting universality. The places are unoccupied but on closer inspection, items like a crumpled pillow or a half empty bottle of water imply human presence. By carefully composing each frame and eliminating the people who otherwise would help distinguish the place geographically, I wanted the spaces to become anonymous. This anonymity forces the viewer to imagine, "Who lives here? What do they do?" and most importantly, briefly switch places with the absent occupants and ask, "Could this be me?"


2009 – 2011
MFA in New Media, Transart Institute, Berlin/New York

1999 – 2002
BA in Photography, Wielkopolska School of Photography, Poznan, Poland

1997 – 2002
MA in Marketing and Management, A. Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland

Awards / Grants

Magenta Foundation, Flash Forward – Emerging Photographers 2010, US Selected Winner
28th Annual Juried Membership Exhibition, Houston Center For Photography, Houston, TX
Selected for the exhibition, Juror: Hannah Frieser.
"Too much chocolate" / Kodak Film Grant.

Hey, Hot Shot 2009, Second Edition, Jen Bekman Gallery, New York, NY, Honorable Mention.
Lucie Awards, International Photography Awards, Los Angeles, CA
1st Place, Architecture-Interiors for "Inhabited" project
3rd Place, Architecture-Buildings for “Home” project
Photographic Center Northwest, Seattle, WA
2nd Place – 14th Annual Photo-Op Competition, judged by Jen Bekman
Magenta Foundation, Flash Forward – Emerging Photographers 2009, Honorable Mention
Transart Institute / Donau Universiteit Krems, 2 year MFA scholarship recipient

Lucie Awards, International Photography Awards, Los Angeles, CA
2nd Place, Architecture-Interiors for "Lower East Side" project

The Friends of Melina Mercouri Foundation, Thessaloniki, Greece
International Photography Competition: "Distinctive Cultural Identities"
2nd Prize for a single photograph "Love"
“Eco Homo” Photographic Competition, Poznan, Poland, 2nd Place
“Zlota Muszla", Koszalin, Poland
V Photographic Competition of the Baltic Sea Countries

"Zlota Muszla", Koszalin, Poland
IV Photographic Competition of the Baltic Sea Countries,
3rd Place for a series “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”

Solo Exhibitions

Inhabited, FXFowle Gallery, New York, NY
Continental Bounce, Clic Gallery, New York, NY

On Watch, Photography Month Festival, Krakow, Poland
Continental Bounce, The Half King, New York, NY

Second Street Café, Brooklyn, NY

Paprika, New York, NY

Rose Club Art Show, Seattle, WA

Others, Ciemnia Gallery, Poznan, Poland
The World Meets at One Point, KULeuven, Leuven, Belgium

Group Exhibitions

Flash Forward Festival Group Exhibition, Toronto, Canada
28th Annual Juried Membership Exhibition, Houston Center For Photography, Houston, TX
Optical Annual Juried Competition, Winners Exhibition, Raandesk Gallery, New York, NY

Picturing Home, Visual Arts Gallery, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Recessive Traits–in the Absence of the Dominant Element, Broadway Gallery, New York, NY
IPA Best of Show Exhibition, Splashlight Studios, New York, NY
Photo-Op, 14th Annual Photographic Competition Exhibition, PCNW, Seattle, WA
Group Show No.30, Humble Arts Foundation, New York, NY

Environmental Elements, Frontier Geosciences, Seattle, WA

Distinctive Cultural Identities, International Exhibition of Photography, Moni Lazariston, Thessaloniki, Greece
Zlota Muszla, V Photographic Competition of the Baltic Sea Countries, Koszalin, Poland

Zlota Muszla, IV Photographic Competition of the Baltic Sea Countries, Koszalin, Poland

EYE BUY Magda Biernat...