This work was part of The Fog exhibition, in which the photographer raised the issue of coal’s impact on air quality in Silesia.
According to a May 2018 study by the World Health Organisation (WHO), 36 of the 50 European cities with the poorest air quality are in Poland. The Polish Smog Alert portal asserts that the main cause of air pollution in Poland is ‘low emissions’, i.e. exhaust fumes from solid-fuel boilers and heaters. The situation is aggravated by the use of low-grade coal.
Łuczak’s exhibition at Szara Gallery in Katowice was the third part of his project concerning coal and its impact on Upper Silesia. Previously, there was Extraction, in which he exhibited close-ups of miners’ bodies, and he was also featured in a group exhibition on the changing landscape of the region: Experiencing Points – The New Silesian Landscape.
The above photograph was taken in Tychy, where, as Łuczak wrote:
Coal penetrates all spheres of life. People live off coal, use it for heating, and fall ill due to the air pollution.
This natural resource that shaped the Upper Silesian landscape and identity has now become its curse. Reliance on coal as the primary source of energy in the country has led to air pollution, and the planned restructuring of mining may have unpredictable consequences for society.
The exhibition contained not just photos of smog, but also of fog. Łuczak paired them in order to reveal the strategy adopted by politicians who prefer to downplay the problem, because ‘not all fog is poisonous’, after all. On the other hand, the photographer draws our attention to how easily images can be manipulated and used as false evidence to prove one’s point.
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.