This photograph comes from the book which documented the first phase of system transformation process, which started in Poland after the fall of socialism in 1989.
Witold Krassowski was photographing everyday life in Poland for almost two decades. He often looked for subjects outside of the main political theatre. He travelled to villages, falling collective farms, disco-polo concerts, recording separate faces and general scenes. This is what he said about his works some time later:
I tried to convey the atmosphere of that period, transitional by definition, create a kind of synthetic portraits of social groups, considering them more representative than fleeting events.
Krassowski encompassed the fast-changing reality in black-and-white photos. His works look like a mix of a humanist photo reportage and black reportage from the 1970s. At times, grotesque photographs depict mundane situations, which stir up many contradictory feelings.
In the work above, Krassowski recorded an incident by a country road, with a backdrop of a typical Polish landscape. A remorseful man leaning on a bicycle is listening to advices from a Catholic priest standing over him. This scene looks like an outtake from the popular comedy In Heaven as It Is on Earth, except that Krassowski is not laughing at the characters from his photographs, nor he is looking down at them. The photographer depicted his provincial characters in almost sculptural postures and with respect. The way their bodies are positioned reveals their feelings and relationship. The men remained anonymous – their faces are undecipherable, since the details disappeared in the shadows. Thanks to this, the work has become universal, like a parable.