While taking pictures of a demolished shop in the city centre, the photographer also captured the insecure position of greenery in central Warsaw.
Since 2007, Krzysztof Eberle has run the blog mouthstrappedinstatic.blogspot.com, where he posts photographs of Polish landscapes. He is drawn by derelict places, the outskirts of towns, and public spaces that transform in line with capitalist logic.
In the above photograph, Eberle captured part of Świętokrzyska Street in Warsaw. The cold hues suggest that it was taken around twilight. The cityscape is dominated by glass, concrete, and desiccated branches. This monotony of colours and textures is broken up by a large advertising banner and a tree planted in a pot.
The potted trees of Świętokrzyska Street appeared in 2014, after the completion of the central section of the second metro line. Building the underground railway provided an opportunity to repair and reorganise one of the capital’s main arteries. The part perpendicular to Nowy Świat was originally to be pedestrianised, so they narrowed the road and widened the pavement – and planted trees in pots, which remained for another four years. By 2015, downtown residents had already submitted two participatory projects to the city council – to create a flower meadow and plant a row of trees. The changes were implemented three years later.
Eberle’s work is a critical illustration of approaches to designing public space in city centres. Looking at the concrete desert the photographer depicts, it would seem that the thirst for profit still dominates over the needs of the residents – but the latter increasingly wish to decide about their surroundings for themselves.
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.