Adam Lach and Kacper Kowalski received honourable mentions at the 71st edition of the Pictures of the Year International (POYi) competition.
Adam Lach's Stigma series of photos received an honourable mention - the Award of Excellence – in the prestigious category of Issue Reporting Picture Story. The photos were originally taken for the Polish weekly Polityka, but, as the author admits, the situation has changed:
After three months of visiting those people, I realized that they had become something more than the heroes of one publication to me. This is how my journey into their world began, which turned into an authorial photo project. – said Adam Lach
While working on the project, Adam Lach visited the “cardboard city” of Psie Pole (a former district of Wrocław, southern Poland), more than 40 times.
It’s easy to fight for rights of people that are protesting loudly. It is much harder to perceive those that do not attract attention. The Stigma Project tells the story of a 60-member Romani family, living in the cardboard city in the outskirts of Wrocław. – the author writes in the project description
The pictures of the Romani living in Wrocław have so far appeared in the online edition of the New Yorker and in the magazine Foto8. This series was also selected for the finals of the Łódź Photo Festival, during which one of the images featured as part of the Silver Houses as Tents exhibition (Domy srebrne jak namioty), shown at the Contemporary Museum in Wrocław.
Kacper Kowalski, another Polish photographer, was awarded 3rd prize in the Science & Natural History Picture Story category for his Depth of Winter series. Kowalski was also recently awarded 2nd place in the Nature stories category of the World Press Photo Contest.
The Picture of the Year contest has been organised by the Missouri School of Journalism, Columbia, Missouri, since 1944. Each year, more than 48,000 works are submitted to the contest and the best 240 selected by a panel of 12 eminent visual journalists.
Adam Lach’s commentary on the Stigma project:
Michał Dąbrowski (Culture.pl): Why did you decide to get into the topic of the Romani family in Wrocław?
Adam Lach: Because I knew it would be hard. The thing that fascinates me the most in photography is an attempt to tell the story of a man unable to be reached, excluded and burdened with a certain stigma. Everyday life in the Romani community is an avoided topic often swept under a rug. In my opinion, it is important and worthy of sacrifice. However, I did not expect that this would become so important to me. In my opinion, through my work, I became a kind of medium through which the Romani community could become known to others, without any stereotypes or the issue of the fairness of their stay in Poland.
You have made a portrait of the facts of their daily life. Do you think that the Romani people are dehumanised as a result of the prevailing stereotypes?
They are dehumanised, as is any man who is burdened with a stereotype. Of course in Poland (as in many countries in Europe), Romani people are a serious problem – I am not trying to turn away from this statement. Also, my goal is not to whitewash their behaviour, or persuade others to accept their culture and identity – but in this story, I tried to avoid any simplifications and prejudices. This Romani dehumanisation relies on the fact that we – as Poles, cannot look at them through the straight-forward human prism.
Recently, You received a Young Poland scholarship in order to prepare a book containing this series of images. When can it be expected?
The album’s premiere is scheduled for June 2014 as one of the events of the Łódź Photo Festival.
The Adam Lach image by Katarzyna Dybowska, courtesy of the author.
ed. Michał Dąbrowski, 17.02.2014, translated: Katarzyna Maksimiuk, 18.02.2014