In 2014, Wojciech Wilczyk began to photograph murals on the theme of identity. In his latest project, the artist shows us fragments of the Polish landscape.
Wilczyk has been recording the landscape of contemporary Poland for several years. His There’s no such Thing as an Innocent Eye series documented former synagogues and prayer houses currently used for other purposes – they have been turned into shops, public facilities or housing. In Holy War, he examined graffiti by football fans, and in Another City, he photographed sites in the former Warsaw Ghetto. In an interview with Maciej Frąckowiak, he admitted:
In the case of my projects that seem to have worked, the stimulus always came from the landscape or something specific and eye-catching.
A provincial bus stop, decorated to look like a prison cell, sports a strikingly pithy slogan and the portrait of a soldier. A powerful note is added by the colour red, as seen in part of the Polish flag and something resembling a bloodstain.
The artist is interested in murals covering issues of identity. Most of the slogans and images he photographs were supposed to convey national pride, preserve a specific view of history, and honour prominent historical figures. Among the pictures posted to his blog, you can find ‘cursed soldiers’, John Paul II, cavalrymen, and Father Jerzy Popiełuszko, along with (less frequently) Dmowski, Mickiewicz and Marie Curie. Wilczyk’s pictures show these murals in their surrounding context, with fragments of housing estates, adverts and passers-by. His photographs make the murals visible, allowing us to raise questions about the condition of society, and the values and myths underpinning Polish identity.
Originally written in Polish, translated by MB, Nov 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.