I AM POLAND
Most of my life I thought that nothing that happened in politics and public life is of any concern to me. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I Am Poland is a manifestation of this. Earlier I was a person who did not actively participate in this struggle, but one pandemic afternoon something snapped inside me and I told myself “Enough is enough.” That’s when I made my first photo.
Each of the photographs on display tells a different history, or rather herstory, reflecting at the same time a different social problem. We are observing a political treatise on topics that should not be subject to systemic discussion, because they are personal issues such as human rights. They are independent and therefore exist outside of government and should not be arbitrarily regulated by it. Increasingly, women’s roles must conform to an imposed value system. The unconventional portrayal of female protagonists is intended to highlight the fact that dissenting beliefs are controversial. The result is a schism in society and an absurd state of affairs in which people are deprived of all freedoms of existence, step by step, legally or otherwise.
This project is also an attempt to find and understand one’s national identity. At birth, we are implanted with a national affiliation. We have no choice in this regard. Wanting to find the element of Polishness in myself, I began to ask myself many questions. Among others, what does it mean to be a Pole and a woman? Is it even possible to feel like one in today’s reality, if the worldview one adopts does not fit into the framework of power used by the authorities? As it turns out, each of Us has another definition of Polishness; still, some social groups try to simplify and pigeonhole it. However, they forget that it is impossible to paint the whole country white and red, as each of these colours has many different hues. The same is true of the views, values and ideas we hold in life.
The use of a certain colour palette in relation to what fundamentalists might call images of female protagonists that deviate from the norm is intended as a mental experiment. Through this combination, I wanted to see what feelings would prevail among viewers. I wondered whether a photo showing a Polish mother breastfeeding would evoke joy because of the child, scorn by showing some nudity, respect and patriotic feelings because of the use of the national colours, or perhaps outrage, given the broader context and knowledge of how women are treated. Anonymity is deliberate, as I wanted to make the work universal to allow the viewer to personally identify with what is depicted, rather than give a ready-made template and identify the story with specific individuals.
I created this project not only to find a Pole and a woman within me, but also because I wanted to show my solidarity with the women who tirelessly fight on my behalf for my rights. Instead of a sword, I have a camera and emotions. Armed with them, I set out for this battle for freedom for all of Us.
Artistic supervision: Tomek Maryks, Paweł Klein