For two years Krzysztof Gołuch photographed disabled employees at a hotel. His series won first prize in the Grand Press Photo 2018 competition.
The At Work series is the artist’s latest narrative centred on people for whom daily life is more taxing. Previously, he documented wheelchair-rugby players and paralympic athletes, and also published a book about them. Gołuch’s photographs mostly depict disabled people, although he avoids the word himself. In one interview, he explained why:
They are normal people, but in wheelchairs, for example. They are living people with their own problems.
According to the statistics quoted by Gołuch, one in seven Poles are disabled. This group includes those who aspire to work at ‘professional activity centres’ which have sprung up in Poland over the last decade or so. Apart from being a photographer, the author is also a teacher, and the text accompanying his photographs explains:
This is another difficult obstacle that they must overcome in order to live with dignity.
Gołuch’s extremely vivid series of photographs shows his subjects engaged in work that could be beneficial in boosting their sense of worth and self-respect. He also makes his own contribution, not just by showing them to the world, but by running an occupational therapy workshop at the Caritas centre in Knurów.
While on stage, collecting his award for best entry in the ‘Daily Life’ category, he asked his fellow photographers not to forget about the disabled. ‘By caring about them, we care about ourselves’, he explained. Before winning this Polish national competition, his works were first published in a local Knurów newspaper. Gołuch has demonstrated that excellent specialists are to be found everywhere.
Originally written in Polish, translated by MB, Nov 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.