This is a photograph from behind the scenes of a breakfast TV programme featuring Polish female bodybuilders.
Before joining the Napo Images group of photojournalists, Ewa Meissner worked as an exhibition curator and publisher. She rarely exhibits her photographs, as she is more focused on long-term, socially committed projects. The artist has reiterated that photography remains something deeply personal to her.
In the series from which the above photograph is taken, Meissner sketches Warsaw through its details – red carpets, clip-on bow ties, and flashy signs. She photographs the young and old, businessmen and homeless, punks and taxi drivers, documenting life on the streets. Her view of Warsaw was expressed in the text accompanying the photographs:
Warsaw is insecure, aggressive, arrogant, brave, vain and ambitious.
Meissner has been working on her Warsaw series since 2008. This photograph of Marszałkowska Street was taken in summer 2009 and portrays the making of a TV show using the city as a backdrop. The lead actors in this scene are a presenter and a bodybuilder, who, although standing close to each other, seem somehow alienated. The woman in the middle is frozen in an almost sculpturesque pose which, coupled with the man’s coquettish gaze, heightens the artificiality of the situation.
In her photographs, Meissner disenchants the world of the mass media, revealing a backstage view of the creation of breakfast TV. Guy Debord, who envisaged a community governed by images in The Society of the Spectacle, wrote:
The more he (the viewer) contemplates, the less he lives; the more he identifies with the dominant images of need, the less he understands his own life and his own desires.
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.