A philosopher by education, Zawada is known above all for his photographs depicting social and moral issues and everyday life. His best-known series consists of what he calls his “snapshots” of Poland (2005–2006), black and white photographs taken in the underground passages of Warsaw’s central railway station (Magnet, 2006–2008), and his slightly ironic pictures alluding to the works of the British photographer Martin Parr, from the series Lake (2007), Cars (2009) and Giewont (2010).
Albert Zawada (born 1973) began his career as a camera operator for the TVN television network and then, in 2001, took a job as a news photographer for the newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza. From the very beginning he found fulfilment in urban, street photography and readily produced portraits of politicians, artists and other people from the world of culture.
In 2007, while he was documenting Poles at rest and play on lake Firlej in 2007, he became fascinated by the Poland not shown in television adverts or on billboards. For many years Zawada has worked on a project portraying provincial life in Poland. He photographs regulars at country discos, car tuning fanatics, package holiday tourists and those who love to spend their free time in front of their television sets. He is interested in small town fetes and long-forgotten architectural structures from the Polish People’s Republic era. Zawada also deals with the issue of migration (Two Corpses Will Float Past Here Today, 2009).
Zawada’s photographs have won awards both in press photography competitions (BZ WBK 2006, 2007; Newsreportaż 2007, 2009) and in artistic competitions (Henkel Art.Award, 2006). He has published his work in the Polish and foreign press (among others: Gazeta Wyborcza, Polityka, Tygodnik Powszechny, Newsweek, Przekrój, Rzeczpospolita, Sukces, Twój Styl, Playboy, Logo, Elle, Glamour, Zwierciadło, National Geographic, L’Express, Liberation, Die Zeit, The New York Times and Le Monde). At the same time, his work has been shown in exhibitions of modern art (the Prague Biennale in the Czech Republic, 2011) and also as part of important photographic events (among others the Fotofestiwal in Łódź, 2007, and Photomonth in Kraków, 2008). Zawada is less well-known for his commercial photographs and fashion photography sessions.
In recent years Albert Zawada has travelled widely, taking photographs in various countries in Europe, Africa, Asia (among others Georgia, India and China), Australia and Cuba. One of the results of these trips was his series of black and white poetic photographs from Istanbul (Orhan Memory, 2009), inspired by the work of Orhan Pamuk.
Photographer's website: albertzawada.com
The original text was published in The Decisive Moment. New Phenomena in Polish Photography Since 2000, Karakter, 2012
Author: Adam Mazur, October 2012