The Decisive Moment. New Phenomena in Polish Photography Since 2000
The collection of images and profiles of the most important photographers of the young Polish generation was compiled and expounded upon by curator and critic Adam Mazur. From art photography, reportage and fashion photography, it presents a diversified map of the most significant works and personalities of contemporary Polish photography
The book presents 92 young Polish photographers, their backgrounds and their works in a quality hardcover edition in both Polish and English, with over 500 accompanying photographs. The result is a synthesized portrait of the most significant artists and trends of the genre over the past 12 years. It traces the changes that have taken place within the realm of art, as a byproduct of a changing political system and society itself. Mazur himself made the selection the who and why, based on his extensive experience curating shows of contemporary photography across Poland.
As he writes in the introduction, Mazur takes the year 2000 as his point of reference - a time at which Polish photography underwent a significant revolution. Following the transformation of the early 1990s, later in the decade the newest generation of artists were exposed to new ideas and new techniques. The advent of the Internet and the evolution of digital photography sparked novel ways of approaching the subject of photography and its presentation. As Polish photographers began putting forth notable works, exhibitions were founded on the topics and trends they explored, presenting their works to the public via prestigious art institutions like the Centre for Contemporary Art at Ujazdowski Castle or the Zachęta Gallery of Art in Warsaw.
Documenting social change and the vestiges of the past, the wake of celebrity and paparazzi culture, homosexuality and homophobia, high culture and low culture, these works are vested within the very moment of the present. As Mazur rights, contemporary culture "no longer resembles the revered cultural model that spanned generations of Polish intelligentsia and artists. Photographers as well. The visual culture accepts the division of high and low, what is notable and what is damnable, based on good or bad taste". He adds that the rigid divide between what is "art" and what is "photography", so deeply rooted in the Polish consciousness, began to disappear in the 1990s. In the current mix of styles that spans the artistic, popular, romantic, spontaneous, realistic, illusory, commercial and documentary.
The achievements of the heroes of earlier years - Zofia Kulik, Zbigniew Libera - are set alongside the most respected names of contemporary art - Aneta Grzeszykowska, Mikołaj Długosz and the most recognizable names of commercial and documentary photography - Tadeusz Rolke, Tomasz Gudzowaty - along with the most promising debuts of tomorrow - Przemyslaw Dzienis, Michał Jelski, Mateusz Sadowski. The names are arranged alphabetically, creating a mixed collage of different styles, from Basia Sokołowska's abstract images to the cool, analytical documentation of Juliusz Sokołowski. The fashion photography of Jacek Poremba precede the masterworks of Wojciech Prażmowski, a legend of "creative photography". Ultimately, the collection presents not only a diverse portrait of contemporary Polish photography, but also Polish society itself - from the inside all the way out to the fringes of alternative lifestyles and thought. We have the sensual innocence of Zuza Krajewska and Bartek Wieczorek, the conceptual philosophy of Krzysztof Pijarski, the futurist visions of Ewa Łowżył, the unapologetic gamers of Bownik, the war reportages of Łukasz Trzcinski and the manipulations of Kobas Laksa.
Adam Mazur (born 1977) – critic, art historian, specialist in American studies. He is best known for his curatorial work at the Centre for Contemporary Art at Zamek Ujazdowski in Warsaw, where he has put together a number of exhibitions on contemporary Polish photography, including The New Documentalists, The Red Eye Effect, Schism and Missing Documents. He has authored two books: I Love Photography (2009) and Histories of Photography in Poland 1839–2009 (2010). He regularly collaborates with Poland's Kwartalnik Fotografia (Photography Quarterly) and Dwutygodnik (Biweekly), along with other local and international publications.
Editor: Agnieszka Le Nart (based on the original Polish text by Anna Cymer)
The Decisive Moment. New Phenomena in Polish Photography Since 2000 (Decydujący moment. Nowe zjawiska w fotografii polskiej po 2000 roku)
By: Adam Mazur
Publisher: Karakter, Kraków, October 2012
Featured photographers: Bąkowski, Bownik, Breguła, Dąbrowski, Długosz, Dzienis, Forecki, Gomulicki, Grospierre, Grzeszykowska, Krajewska i Wieczorek, Kulik, Libera, Niedenthal, Orski, Petersen, Pijarski, Poremba, Radziszewski, Rogalski, Rolke, Saciłowski, Sadowski, Szlaga, Tarasiewicz, Tobis, Uklański, Zorka Project and more...