The Poland exhibition is a result of over 15 years of work by photographer Michał Szlaga. These are thousands of pictures which form a peculiar diary of the photographer’s journeys across Poland. Szlaga lives in Gdańsk, but he is constantly on the go – this is what his profession requires. He is an expert in organising such trips: he knows the menu on the trains by heart, he knows where and when roadside prostitutes can be found, and what position to take in a long-distance coach in order to get at least a nap after a sleepless night.
He always travels with his amateur, mini analogue Olympus mju II, a camera which – despite its simplicity, low price and limited durability – has already gained a status of an icon among photographers. It’s discreet, unobtrusive, very small and, above all, not at all “serious,” which makes approaching people closely remarkably easier. In his project Poland Szlaga is, undoubtedly, quite a nosy peeping Tom, who catches its subjects in the least expected moments. However, he is not interested in ridiculing people. Instead, he seeks to find some universal emotions in their gestures and faces.
The pictures for the Poland series were taken as if “by chance” – they are always quick shots spotted on the way, during unexpected and unintended meetings – spontaneous frames of reality. Despite its intentional randomness and fragmentation, the whole project is aesthetically coherent, as it is – leaving aside its documentary layer – a result of searching by the photographer of the beauty in banality: such as an ephemeral rainbow spotted over a washbasin in the local Polish train, a line of red lights on a jammed street seen from an overpass, or landscapes pictured at dawn.
Michał Szlaga observes Poland from trains, cars or as a passer-by – he seldom takes on the role of a participant of events. And yet, he almost always manages to come close to whatever he finds interesting. This is a sweet’n’sour Poland: folksy and cheesy, but at the same time auto-ironic or immersed in contemplative meditation.
Poland exhibition has already been shown at:
Instytut Fotografii Fort 10.02-9.04.2017
Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art (group exhibition "Późna polskość") 31.03-06.08.2017
Krakow Photomonth 2017 4.06.2017
Fotocooltura Festival 9-11.06.2017
PF Gallery CK Zamek in Poznan 1.08-1.09.2017
MICET INTERACTIVE MUSEUM / National Stary Theatre in Cracow 16.09-30.09.2017
Tarasin Gallery in Kalisz