Society has often been suspicious of people who live alone. Since some form of collective living has traditionally dominated housing patterns in the West, the solitary person acted as an Other onto which fears and anxieties could be projected. Much has changed, happily, in social attitudes towards people living alone, as new economic and social patterns place larger and larger percentages of the population into solitary living situations at one time or another in their lives. Justyna Badach's Bachelor Series consisting of over 50 bachelors portraits with short texts written by the photographer, explores these conventions as they relate to both individual identity and to the artistic process. Identity is constructed from within by each individual, but is also circumscribed and defined by interactions with others, first family members, then friends and eventually professional contacts. Artists, too, work out their artistic identities both in the isolation of their studios and in constant dialogue with other people, with other art objects and images. Badach's photographs attempt to make visible some of the more hidden aspects of individual identity, while at the same time representing a social moment of contact between the subject and the photographer, forcing both of them outside of their private habits.
Individuals are constantly confronted by society's ideas and conventions about what makes up "the good life" and how it should be both lived and put on display. Reassuring images of social networks such as family and close friends dominate the media, which can generate feelings of tension for people who live alone. This contrast lends a degree of poignancy to Badach's portrait of Vek. Sitting alone in a slumped posture on a stool in the middle of his living room, Vek pauses from packing his belongings. Badach's haunting prose, marked by short, laconic sentences that point to the tragic via the mundane, informs us that this is his last day here after being evicted. Forced to leave his apartment and not sure where he will go, he nonetheless allowed Badach to come over and shoot his portrait. Behind him, a lightwood folding screen that holds multiple picture frames leans against the wall. The photographs in the frames suggest a full family life: a beautiful woman with flowing hair, a couple on a beach, a child. They appear, at first glance, to place Vek into a reassuring network of relationships that would balance his distraught expression and body language, cancelling them out as merely temporary in a life rich with laughter and sunshine. Look again. The photographs in the frame are not Vek's friends and family, but in fact are the advertising photos that came with the screen when Vek bought it. Three photographs are repeated twice, framing the large central scene of the blonde woman with the horse. As marketing images to entice buyers to purchase the frame, the stock photos present an image of life lived in the company of others, where displacement and loneliness have no place.