curators text, author: Jürgen Schmidt
Tomasz Lewandowski has been travelling around Poland for several years, photographing for his series Polish Summer. His works illustrate public spaces, which are sceneries of everyday life as well as places important for both political and historical reasons. Because Lewandowski has been living and working in Germany for many years, he looks at his former homeland from his own specific perspective. He sees it as a local natives and at the same time as an observer from the outside. As a documentary photographer, Lewandowski is primarily concerned with the sociological dimension of architecture. So it should not be surprising that most of the photographs in the Polish Summer series show buildings, streets and squares. Nevertheless, these photographs show the social situation, cultural condition and lifestyle of Poles in a unique way. They also show the effects of social and economic changes, as well as political and ideological transformations of the last decades. This is a subtle method which, after decrypting the content of the images, allows the viewer to see the contemporary life of Polish people against the background of the recent past of their country. For example, in the background of the blue pool theme, we discover in the green the barracks of the Auschwitz concentration camp, built by the German occupants. The expression of the current, tense social situation is the billboard of the anti-abortion campaign, photographed by Lewandowski in the middle of the idyll of the Tatra Mountain. For documentation, the author uses a large-format camera. This technique forces the photographer to work in a way that is different from the classic discipline of street photography. Lewandowski is not looking for a dramatic effect - he is more interested in seemingly banal scenes and details, the meaning of which allows to discover only a deeper look.
„Polish Summer” / authors text (Tomasz Lewandowski)
In 1918 as a result of World War I Poland became independent after 123 years of non-existence. After the Second World War in 1945 the country loosed its independence and came under the influence of the Soviet Union. In the 1980s the country played an important role in the democratization of Eastern Europe. It was in Poland where the "Solidarność" movement was founded, which was fighting for the democratic values and helped to fall the Eastern Bloc. Until a few years ago these experiences seemed to be a stable basis for democracy in Poland. "Polish Summer" is a photographic analysis of current socio-political processes in Poland, based on the recent history of the country. The realization takes place on two visual levels of meaning: The first one is the documentation of places of everyday life. They tend to go unnoticed in the public space. However, these places are a natural living environment for millions of people. They are a real background for social and political transformations and also a result of them. This is because they are often arranged unconsciously and indirectly (co-)organized by the citizens. This documentation is confronted with photographs of objects and places of political and historical relevance for the development of national identity and mentality. The pictures of these objects and places can also appear to be unimportant or cursory noticed. Therefore, each photograph of this group is accompanied by an explanatory, short text or keywords in the form of hashtags. On this way they explain the meaning of the presented motives and places. This hybrid method is intended to sensitise the viewer outside Poland to the understanding of the current zeitgeist in this Eastern European country. The aim of this work is also to inspire Polish recipients to critically reflect on the mental structure of their own society. Right now, in the time of the perceived gradual break with democracy in Poland and 100 years after the founding of the state, this kind of reflection seems to be very important.
Born 1978 in Nysa/Poland, graduated in 2012 with a Master’s degree in Photography from Prof. Rudolf Schäfer at the Burg Giebichenstein University of Art Halle. As a documentary photographer, he is primarily concerned with the sociological dimension of architecture. He also teaches photography at various universities in Germany and Poland.