How does one know that they are in Poland? What are the things that make up our subjective assessment of the place we live in? What images could be used to describe the specific character of a given country? Is it possible to portray the Poland of today on photographs without resorting to banality, without spite or quite on the contrary, without flattery and yet not refraining from subjectivity?
The photographer is an observer by nature. It is someone particularly sensitive to the details that others seem to miss in everyday life. A photographer has an amazing skill of bringing out to light images that are seemingly banal yet rich in content. We often forget that it is precisely those ordinary little things, we practically always ignore, that constitute the real image of the place we live in. After all, it is not the monuments or buildings found in guidebooks that make up our everyday lives.
The Third Republic of Poland was surprisingly unpopular among documentary photographers. The first years after its proclamation in 1989 witnessed few photographic ventures aimed at portraying the dynamic development of the country. It was not until recently that more and more documentary projects depicting Polish reality in a subjective manner were conceived. However, we are not referring to undertakings which plainly record the world as it is, or just capture intriguing events, but to the well-planned, developed with utmost detail, series of photographs whose authors ventured to tell us how they see the outside world, the place they live in – the Poland of today – through images.
The answer to the question as
to the reasons behind this break in the documentary recording on Poland
is not an easy one. However, one of the reasons must have been the
strong conviction many photographers working under the communist regime
shared, that by escaping the outside world they were free and censorship-proof.
To be presented with serious documentary photography we had to wait
for the next generation of photographers, whose activity commenced
in the post-1989 period, to take the stage. Yet, intellectual maturity
is what entitles an artist to look at one’s own country in a