Góry wołają (The Mountains Are Calling) is one of the most comprehensive tourist albums in the history of Polish photobooks that set new standards for similar publications.
The voluminous album Góry wołają (The Mountains Are Calling) is one of several interesting publications inspired and funded by the Tourism Department of the Polish Ministry of Communications in the late 1930s. One of the initiatives of this governmental body, which was founded in 1932 and directed by the father of Polish tourism, Mieczysław Orłowicz, consisted in building an extensive photographic archive intended as a modern visual propaganda tool for the young country. Hence, it is no surprise that in Góry wołają the sightseeing qualities intertwine with a specific geopolitical vision. As should be the case with a model propaganda publication, the book paints a rather idyllic and homogeneous image of the Polish mountains and life in them, which after all was quite different from the actual ethnic relations and living conditions in the Second Polish Republic's outlying south-eastern region.
The book was edited by Adam K. Zieliński, who was likely also responsible for the photo selection. Zieliński, who also worked as a photographer, released several other tourist publications through the Tourism Department (e.g. Poland, 1939). An additional asset of the book, besides the rich collection of photographs, is the introduction written by Rafał Malczewski (son of Jacek), who at the time was in fact celebrated more as an essayist rather than a painter.
The book's structure relates to the topography of the pre-war Polish borders. It is a march with a camera along the cross-border Carpathian range, from west eastwards, from the Beskids to the Chyvchyn Mountains. This concise overview was nevertheless a spectacular endeavour. The book acted as a prototype for hundreds of similar post-war tourist publications. Interestingly, even though the Tourism Department's archive became dispersed, many well known photographs from it continued to be used in books produced in the Polish People's Republic. This continuance also resulted from evident personal reasons – Orłowicz kept his post after the end of the war.
Góry wołają comprises one hundred and ninety-one photographs by several dozen authors who – notably – are all credited by their full names. Each photograph is also accompanied by a precise topographical description. The vast majority of the photographs was sourced from the aforementioned archive, but a lot of them were also pictures awarded in the 1938 winter photo competition of the Ministry of Communications. Some of the notable photographers whose pictures were featured in the book include Roman Puchalski, Stefan Plater-Zyberk, Henryk Poddębski, Stanisław Mucha, and Henryk Schabenbeck, as well as authors specializing in mountain photography, such as Antoni Marian Wieczorek, Zygmunt Klemensewicz, Bronisław Kupiec, and Tadeusz Krystek. A number of the images were also known from various propaganda materials from the 1930s or postcards produced in Lviv by the Książnica Atlas publisher.
The photographs comply with the tourist standards of the time and present a wide variety of winter and summer vistas, out of which the most interesting ones feature human staffage and skiing scenes. Yet another theme is introduced with the ethnographic motifs (especially concerning the Eastern Borderlands: shepherd culture, Hutsul customs). The synthesis of the sightseeing and ethnographic subjects that is typical for the modern tourism is symbolically topped off by alternating repeated symbols of a Goral (Highlander) shepherd's axes and tourist skis, printed on the book's flyleaf.
On the other hand, the somewhat dull photographic narrative, limited to mountain landscapes, is disturbed by an interesting and unusual graphic solution (which, nota bene, was omitted by the publisher of the 2011 reprint of the book). Individual signatures were printed in different shades of monochrome (sepia, grey-scale, green, blue), thus forming the photographs into chapters and successfully diversifying the rhythm of quite monotonous themes (views of summits and arêtes, Goral and Hutsul types, skiers, snow prints, etc.). The layout of both the text and the illustrated part is also attention worthy, as it seduces with its modern sensibility (full bleed images, asymmetrical spread composition). Several pages with reproductions of paintings by Rafał Malczewski, Józef Pieniążek, and Alfred Terlecki complement the book and boost its visual appeal. All of the above make Góry wołają one of the most comprehensive tourist albums in the history of Polish photobooks. It set new standards for similar publications devoted to mountain tourism, which had up until then had persistently followed the convention akin to the works of the pioneers of Tatra photography and publishing active at the turn of the 20th century (for instance Awit Szubert).
photographs: Jan Jaroszyński, Zygmunt Klemensiewicz, Edward Olszaniecki, Roman Puchalski, Adam Zieliński et al.
editor: Adam K. Zieliński
text: Rafał Malczewski
graphic design: Franciszek Seifert (cover design)
publisher: Tatra Skier Society in Kraków
volume: 200 pages
format: 29 x 21 cm
cover: linen hardcover with dust jacket
print run: unknown
Original text: polishphotobook.tumblr.com
, transl. Ania Micińska, July 2015