Technically flawed but honest and spontaneous – such were the photographs taken by children during workshops in areas with record high unemployment.
In July 2002, photographers from Gazeta Wyborcza organised workshops for children in Jasionka and Krzywa, two former collective farm villages in the Lower Beskids. Piotr Janowski, Paweł Kula and Marek Noniewicz gave children simple cameras, allowing them full creative freedom, with no instructions or attempts to influence them. All that counted was spontaneity and fun. Janowski described the children’s reactions as follows:
When I handed the children cameras and said they could take pictures of whatever they wanted, at first they were surprised, but then started to ask increasingly boldly: What about my father? The crosses by the road? The dog? The neighbour’s tractor? Then they scattered all over the area.
The children photographed their families, friends, house interiors, toys and animals. In short, familiar places to which they were strongly bonded, and which would usually be inaccessible to a visiting photographer. The alluring immediacy of their images does not hinge on photographic experience or technical skill. 'They created a remarkable portrait of their reality, completely unconsciously', Janowski added.
The children took over 3,000 photographs, of which 99 were included in the album released by Czarne Publishers. Accompanying the photographs was an essay by Andrzej Stasiuk on memory and reality in the former collective farms. Income from sales of the book was donated to a local organisation which helps children. The photographs were exhibited in Warsaw, Kraków, Gdańsk, Berlin and other cities, and republished in Gazeta Wyborcza’s magazine.
Originally written in Polish, translated by AG, edited by MB, Dec 2018