Places and Things

This collection of 54 photographs was captured in 1984, during my time in Poland. I snapped all of these shots in Warsaw and Ursus, my hometown. This portfolio marked my first complete and exhibited work. Ursus, where I grew up and lived until relocating to Canada, was a small industrial town located on the outskirts of Warsaw. It was built around a tractor factory and became just another district of Warsaw in 1977. However, to its inhabitants, it remained a unique and distinguishable place. The socialist reality of Poland at that time made it even more colourful.

During the 1980s in Poland, obtaining photographic materials was nearly impossible. It took a great effort for me and my fellow photography enthusiasts to acquire books or photography magazines. Whenever we found something, we promptly reproduced it and shared it with each other. It was a bit like working underground because all photographic material came from the West. Despite these limitations, I was even more eager to learn about the history of photography and study contemporary work.

My collection, Places and Things, is my personal manifestation of what I learned during that time about “pure photography.” The statements made by the members of Group f64 had a significant impact on me. Their belief that “the camera could see the world more clearly than the human eye, because it didn’t project personal prejudices onto the subject” was very appealing to me. Edward Weston’s statement, “The camera should be used for a recording of life, for rendering the very substance and quintessence of the thing itself, whether it be polished steel or palpitating flesh,” became my important motto. I believe that everything I learned then laid a strong foundation for all of my work until now.

These photographs were captured using an East German 2 ¼ Pentacon Six TL and a twin lens 2 ¼ Yashica 635. I would wander around my city and trust my instincts to determine where I should direct my camera. My primary objective was to showcase objects or places in a realistic and unbiased manner. Upon reflection, I am reminded of Roland Barthes’ concept that photographs do not necessarily depict “what is,” but rather, “what has ceased to be.”