In Search of Diamonds across Poland - Tomasz Wiech
The Polish photographer launches his pursuit of precious gems in small Polish towns, on the rural, concrete- and snow-laden landscapes of north, south, east and west, and in an unexpected flash of the big city.
Tomasz Wiech's collection of photos gives a stark, somber glimpse at the reality of Polish towns and cities. From garish billboards adorning every street to unfinished highways that make getting anywhere in this country a nightmare, Wiech's Poland is not beautiful. And yet the images draw the reader in with their studied frames and tribute to modernism's remains.
We have a bride in flip-flops withdrawing money from a cash machine in Kraków, faux cacti growing in an office courtyard in Katowice, a plaid umbrella flying high above a weathered field in Swiebodzin and a kebab stand in someone's front yard. Wiech's foray through these shifting scenes is an adventure, described in poetic terms by his fellow traveler, the writer Michal Olszewski. Neither one is in denial about the insipid blandness of what they encounter, yet they find certain elements that break up the monotony and lift the spirit. As Olszewski writes, "Polish greyness has particular tones, and there's more madness in it than elsewhere, more energy, more rage and unresolved despair, so much of which has soaked into the ground that it scrambles out at every opportunity".
Nearly all the photographs have been taken in winter, at the most dismal time of day, and purposely so: Wiech is reducing the dreaded Polish reality to its most dreadful. And he manages to elicit a smile here and there, a glint of humanity, a glimmer of something precious.
The conclusion is that Poland is a "non-stop carnival", a "land of cowboys, galloping dinosaurs, camels, dwarves, plastic bison and the biggest Jesus in the world". It is an idiosyncratic mix of progress, stagnation, ambition and hopelessness. The smell of burning coal combined with that of burning plastic.
W poszukiwaniu diamentow / In Search of Diamonds
by Tomasz Wiech
Text by Michal Olszewski
Translation: Antonia Lloyd-Jones
Published Tomasz Wiech in 750 numbered copies