The photographer was documenting the Gdańsk Shipyard area for thirteen years.
Michał Szlaga started taking photographs of the shipyard in 2000. He had a workshop inside the former head office building, and later even bought a flat with a view over the Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers, which commemorates the events of December 1970.
Initially, the photographer intended to show how the former shipyard was being turned into a supermarket, but then decided his book should be a call to preserve the site, or rather whatever hadn’t been sold or razed to the ground already.
The artist described Shipyard Szlaga, published in 2013, as a book on architecture. The images of this decaying symbol of Solidarity tell a story about the price of transformation, and serve as a springboard for discussions on urban development concepts.
In an interview for Fotoblogia.pl, Szlaga listed possible reasons why such a symbol of the struggle for democracy was simply allowed to go to seed:
Since people from the outside had never been able to learn about the site from within, they treated it like a bankruptcy asset, except perhaps for the historic BHP Hall, the cranes still visible from city trains, and the entrance gates. That made it easier to start 'clearing' the site for new investments. But I got to know the place, and fell in love with it.
Szlaga’s book documents the dilapidated buildings and remnants of industrial infrastructure, but after its publication, he pledged to commit himself to photographing the people connected to the place, adding: 'They also need to be heard'.
Originally written in Polish, translated by AG, edited by MB, Dec 2018
Michał Szlaga, „2010 – 2012” (2012)