Taking an example of his fellow American photographers, Jeziorek took a photographic trip around Poland.
The legendary American photographer Robert Frank said he ‘hated those goddamned stories with a beginning and an end’. His cult book The Americans was composed of snapshot images – sometimes blurry, often accidental – that painted a picture of 1950s’ America. The book’s introduction was written by Jack Kerouac, author of On the Road. Jeziorek was also fond of randomness in photography, and decided to use it to seek the truth about Poland. Before he started taking his own pictures, he tried to find similar shots by other photographers, but to no avail. He said:
There were fragments, but no full picture.
Jeziorek took the first photos after returning from several years in India, when, as he said, ‘Poland had become interesting’. On his travels, older people he met suggested that he show a true picture, while younger people feared he would make fun of them. He himself simply observed the views with no clear concept in mind.
Judging by the final results, it is clear that he abandoned his search for powerful, eye-catchingly concrete images or symbols. All the works in the series combine to form an incoherent, random study of Polish scenery. We see pilgrims in Częstochowa, alternative youth at Off Festival in Katowice, and elements of the landscape that now seem ubiquitous: colourful house-roofs, pastel-painted apartment blocks, or immense flyovers beneath which small businesses flourish.
After travelling for several weeks, Jeziorek’s equipment started malfunctioning and his lenses stopped focusing.
It struck me that the project was beginning to resemble the country – imperfect and provisional, moustachioed with Disco Polo chic, full of determination for change. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s just so easy to forget about it from a Warsaw perspective.
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.