Dędek’s documentary project is dedicated to small towns in Poland.
On his website, Jacenty Dędek affirms that he is mostly interested in ordinary things which occur on the fringes of major events, but are always close to people. Portrait of the Provinces proves this statement. The photographer focused on places with populations of less than 30,000 people, taking pictures in 421 towns between January 2011 and July 2017.
The author described his project as follows:
The project consists of two parts – grainy press photographs and staged portraits taken with a large-format camera. The second series depicts people in their own environments – houses, workplaces, or municipal festivities.
Dędek refers to the works of Zofia Rydet and her Sociological Record, but, in my opinion, his photographs echo the work of August Sander or the Zorka Project collective. As a rule, his subjects are placed in the middle of the frame and stare directly into the lens. In Portrait of the Provinces, people are always in the foreground and more exposed than in Rydet’s works. Dędek does not startle his subjects with flash photographs; he spends time with each of them, and they reward him with a trustful gaze.
Dędek has created an impressively extensive portrait of the Polish provinces during the second decade of the 21st century. He tells the story of that period through the people he photographed and little details – text on clothes, fragments of adverts, and urban elements in the background.
Originally written in Polish, translated by AG, edited by MB, Dec 2018