The Something Private series portrays the daily life, personal spaces and habits of office workers.
A mug of black coffee, half a bread-roll with a hefty slice of ham, a loosened tie and an unbuttoned shirt-collar – these were the details of an employee, posing in a Polish office kitchen, that swayed the World Press Photo jury to award Corporate Breakfast third prize in the Daily Life category.
While planning this new project, corporations were not at the top of Wiech’s mind – he was searching for cold, contemporary spaces that people arrange according to their needs and tastes.
The photographer called offices to explain his idea and make an appointment. This usually resulted in a brief guided tour, during which he was allowed take photos. After the first pictures were published, the staff of another office decided to invite him in themselves:
They claimed they had a much nicer space and an even bigger mess.
Something Private mainly shows areas around the office desks where employees spend most of the day. For his series, Wiech photographed the domesticating elements in everyday offices: photos on computer monitors, Christmas decorations on pot plants, or a mini-golf set laid out between staff cubicles.
In an interview, Wiech admitted that the space depicted in the photographs gradually became more important to him than capturing decisive moments. Out of the mess (which turned out to be the most human aspect of modern offices), he constructed a story about the staff themselves. As he said, ‘they have transformed their offices into homes, and their homes into bedrooms’.
Originally written in Polish, translated by AG, edited by MB, Dec 2018
This text is part of the project Metaphors of Independence: Poland In 100 Photos.
To coincide with the centenary of Poland regaining its independence, we have created a selection of photographs that allow us to understand both yesterday and today. A hundred photographs but so much more. Find out more.