Dędek’s documentary project is dedicated to small Polish towns.
On his website, Jacenty Dędek states that he is mostly interested in ordinary things, which happen on the margins of the main events, but always close to people. The Portrait of the Province proves this statement. The photographer was interested in places with the population of less than 30 thousand people. He brought photographs from 421 towns. The works were created between January 2011 and July 2017.
This is what the author said about his project:
I wanted to ask the residents of small towns and villages, what drives them and gives the desire to live? How do they see their places? Are they happy? I wanted to make a story about universal matters, which any of us can relate to.
The project consists of two parts – grainy press photos and portraits taken with a large-format camera. The second series contains staged photographs. People are depicted in their environment – houses, work places or during town festivities.
Dędek refers to the works of Zofia Rydet and her Sociological Record, but, in my opinion, his photographs echo the works of August Sander or the Zorka Project collective. As a rule, people are placed in the middle of the frame and look directly into the lens. In The Portrait of the Province, a person is always on the foreground, and more exposed than in Rydet’s works. Dędek doesn’t surprise people he photographs with a flash, and spends time with them. They pay back with trusting looks.
Dędek created an impressively broad portrait of the Polish province from the second decade of the 21st century. He tells a story of that time through the eyes of the people he photographed and little details – printings on clothes, fragments of adverts and small architecture on the background.