After regaining independence on the 11th of November in 1918, Poland was considered as a multi-ethnic country, having huge communities of Ukrainians, Jews, Belarusians and Germans – among others.
The population of Poland became mono-ethnic both due to the Second World War, in which the country lost over 17% of its people (including 90% of Polish Jews) and the border shift prompted by the decisions made in Yalta and Potsdam in 1945.
The communist regime also significantly contributed to the strengthening of this trend through the implementation of the policies of resettlement, migration, and involuntary assimilation.
In a country that has now no more than 1% of national and ethnic minorities; the project is focusing on all of them, showing the existing realities of their everyday lives and on how they cultivate their own identity while trying to maintain their status as full citizens of Poland.
This on-going project is supposed to raise Polish people’s awareness of the existence of cultural diversity and wealth in their country. Such a discovery or a reminder of the presence of other cultures can be very helpful in maintaining a multicultural society while at the same time ensuring greater tolerance to otherness.
Additionally, the project also has the potential to transform the image of Poland in the world. At present, Poland is seen as a mono-ethnic society, which conceals its historical and contemporary links to multi-ethnicity.
minorities.pl - initiation
For all the years of politically forced amnesia, that have passed since the WWII atrocities gravely wounded the social body of Central Europe, the holders of the broken heritage of multicultural Poland were that mere one per cent of its citizens, who belong to thirteen different national and ethnic minorities. Just a shadow of what it used to be.
Extracting their identity from the collected and piously preserved scraps of the lost past, they've kept transmitting it to daughters and sons. Even if some of them chose to assimilate rather than integrate, they remained overwhelmed with the fondness for particular kinds of clothes, food, songs, beliefs and all these things that people long for without even knowing why and call “roots” sometimes. That's how we learn our own cultures and identities.
While traveling in the country and visiting minorities families in search for images of those silent, almost invisible rites of initiation, I have also dug into collections of photographs, which often were presented to me. What I found were another patterns of cultural transmission – through aged images of the past and ancestors.
By carefully selecting the old photographs and matching them with the present portraits of generations confronted in their today's environment, I am trying to show how strong and – in the same time – fragile is that trans generational communication which shapes not only the minorities in Poland, but all of us around the world.
born in 1975, Cracow-based photographer specializing in documentary and story-telling. Member of the Association of Polish Art Photographers and photo-collective Babel Images.
His photos were published by : OjodePez, journal Europa, miesi?cznik Znak, Tygodnik Powszechny, Gazeta Wyborcza, Biuletyn Fotograficzny, Les Echos de Pologne and SONY WORLD PHOTOGRAPHY AWARDS WINNER’S BOOK 2009.
Click on any of the thumbnail images to launch the viewer. You can then navigate forward and backward within the portfolio by clicking the left or right side of the enlarged image. Click the add to collection checkbox to automatically add an image to your collection. Image tags or search engine keywords appear below the collections' checkbox and each word or phrase is a link to potentially more image matches.