Zacheta Gallery, Warsaw: Free Time. Photographs

Free Time. Photographs

13.08 – 22.09

Romuald Broniarek, Aleksander Jałosiński, Bogdan Łopieński, Jan Morek, Wojciech Plewiński, Tadeusz Rolke

Free Time. Photographs, Zachęta – National Gallery of Art, 2013, exhibition view, photo Agencja Medium

These six photographers – the oldest of them born in 1928, the youngest in 1940 – spent most of their professional lives in communist Poland. All of them worked for official presstitles. This exhibition of photographs, however, is an unofficial portrait of those times. The photos do not show government ceremonies, hierarchically framed heads of state or the heroes of propaganda reports. The people presented in the photographs are not at work: they are at leisure, using their time freely. The ‘freedom’ of their time is however limited – the boundaries of that which can be done outside the workplace, are clearly defined. And these activities, as with photographs themselves, had to receive central approval.

All of the photographs featured in the exhibition were published in officially approved media, as illustrations for press features, interviews or photo-essays, and sometimes on the occasion of other commissions. The images of daily life captured by the photographers can be absurd or funny, but also disturbing. For some of their protagonists, ‘leisure time’ means the effort of trying to function ‘despite reality’, to run a tight ship wherever possible. For others, meanwhile, it is a time of oblivion achieved through random entertainment.

The photographs presented here worked for all kinds of press, from the intellectual, modern „Przekrój”, through the glossy „Polska”, various daily newspapers, weekly magazines, and trade periodicals, to „Przyjaźń”, the official organ of the Society of Polish-Soviet friendship. The show’s participants are the younger colleagues of the legendary photojournalists working for the „Świat” weekly that these photographers at the beginning of their careers regarded as their masters. With time, each of them would develop his own, instantly recognisable style.

curator Łukasz Modelski
collaboration Magdalena Komornicka
exhibition design Grzegorz Rytel

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