Maciej Rawluk, "Successions"
Urszula Tarasiewicz, "Photographers"
Artur Urbański, "Łódź, photos from the beginning of the century"
Wiktor Jekimenko, colored by Stefan Brajter, "New energy"
People say that Łódź is more than a city, that it is a state of mind and a cultural phenomenon. Everyone can see for themselves what Łódź is like, but there is no doubt about one thing: it is unique, and this is not just a cliché phrase from an advertising brochure. Its industrial history, its local legends and urban folklore handed down from generation to generation are still floating in the air over the squares and streets of Łódź. It is said that modern Łódź is the hipster of all cities, but still, global culture surely cannot fade the city’s original colours. The exhibitions from the “Stories from Łódź” series illustrate very aptly the authentic, exceptional character of the city and a phenomenon that cannot be precisely defined, but that could be called “Łódźness”.
MACIEJ RAWLUK | SUCCESSIONS
Tall wild trees on the rooftops, plants that nobody planted blooming on cornices, a green stream of algae emerging from under a broken gutter. I observe and photograph examples of plant succession in the urban environment. This phenomenon intrigues me for several reasons. The first, “botanical” one is related to the satisfaction of the one who searches. It is expressed in finding specimens that grow in various – sometimes rather unlikely – places. The second reason is to tell a story about the city, its condition, layers and purposes. And the third one is a pretext to reflect on the notion of Culture (understood as all human creations) and Nature. Today, although it seems that due to the development of technology, Nature is on the defensive, and the observation of succession shows the fragility of Culture. All the inevitable neglect, cessation, abandonment, withdrawal, surrender will be replaced by elements of Nature. And Nature here means more than just the nature that makes us happy. Succession is a process that takes place despite us, it does not ask for our consent or acceptance.
URSZULA TARASIEWICZ | PHOTOGRAPHERS
Photographic factories are a series documenting contemporary studies of family photography. I started with Łódź because it is my city and I often use the photocopying services of Mr. photographer on the corner next door. I am interested in changes in the profession of a photographer and mutations of photographic services. In the nearest photo plant next to my home there is also a paper and toy store as well as a photocopier. Background and lamps suspended to the ceiling are coming down unexpectedly for the time of the session to the shop and a session takes place between wedding prints, calendars and toys. I am fascinated by the old hand-painted fabric backgrounds that I can find in the boat, the history of the owners of these plants and their future. In my trip to Morocco, I also tried to find such bets and asked for a portrait and in the rematch, I photographed the photographer on the Polaroid. I have 5 photographers from Morocco and a few plants from Lodz. I was also able to see the men working in the old camera repair shop in Łódź since I remember I always brought my broken machines there, but there was never an entrance to the real world of photographic cameras and their doctors. It seemed to me completely inaccessible and the employees referred to photographers as to the spoils of artists who have no idea about the souls of cameras. You left the camera in the window, you wrote the receipt and carried it behind the closed door to the photographic hospital. However, I was very happy when I asked if I could see what their place of work and the kingdom of spare parts look like. A real shawl for everyone. Project in the process.
ARTUR URBAŃSKI | ŁÓDŹ, PHOTOS FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE CENTURY
Thanks to the difference between the cultural potentials of the West and the East of 19th-century Europe, Łódź emerged at a rapid pace. It was created by seasoned experts with capital on the one hand and cheap labour recruited among the enfranchised peasants on the other hand. However, in the 20th century, the reasons why Łódź was founded ceased to exist. After World War I the former empires collapsed, after World War II entrepreneurs and the stimulating multicultural vibe disappeared, and in the 1990s trade and markets changed radically.
This series of photographs by Artur Urbański documents Łódź in a very special moment in time – in the first year of the 21st century – during the decline of the industrial city, with all the melancholy surrounding the fading of its former glory, captured just before it transformed into a modern post-industrial city. Like a nineteenth-century flâneur, the author rambles around aimlessly, contemplating the urban life. Following the example of Eugène Atget, he strolls along the streets of Łódź, compiling collections of snapshots of the city that will soon change under the pressure of modernization. The project lasted 18 months, and 20 years have passed since the first photo was taken. Many of these images could not be captured today. This is Łódź from the beginning of the century.
Curator: Ewa Ciechanowska
WIKTOR JEKIMENKO & STEFAN BRAJTER | NEW ENERGY
A collection of around 2000 glass plate negatives found ten years ago has been given a new life. The original black-and-white photographs were taken by a photographer from Łódź, Wiktor Jekimenko – an excellent, yet unknown enthusiast, exceptionally efficient and attentive as a documentalist. His images depict the life of industrial Łódź at the beginning of the 20th century. Hundreds of chimneys towered over the city those days, the first streets and shops were illuminated with electric light, and the city’s cobbled streets were still full of horse-drawn carriages. The photographs emphasised the dullness of everyday life, dust, smoke and the tedious life of factory workers.
Today, these photographs have been given a new angle thanks to Stefan Brajter. He is a photographer from Łódź, author of popular rephotographs and a video artist, who documents the current transformations of the city on a daily basis. Stefan Brajter reached for Jekimenko’s photographs almost a hundred years after they were taken, to breathe new energy into them. Thanks to that, now, we can take a look at the history of Łódź from a new perspective and see the reality of those times in different colours, breaking away from the stereotypical black-and-white image of a pre-war city.
The practice of colourising black-and-white photographs digitally has grown exponentially over the last decade or so. However, this process is not entirely new. Hand colourising of photographs was known already in the 19th century. The first carefully painted prints date back to 1840, less than a year after the invention of photography, and were considered works of art. In the digital age, images are becoming more and more accurate and realistic. However, even with modern technology at hand, colourising photographs is still a labour-intensive process. It often requires research and collaboration with historians and experts to determine exact colours and shades. Colourised photographs can be as touching as they are impressive. They close the distance between the beholder and the past.
The archive of Veolia Energy Łódź, the producer and provider of heat energy for Łódź, preserves a trace of the city’s history from the crucial moment of modernisation and construction of the EC1 power plant, i.e. the beginning of the power industry in Łódź. For years, these photographs have been inaccessible to the public. They were first shown in 2011 during the 10th edition of Fotofestiwal. Today, the collection is presented in a completely new light.
Rossmann is the patron of the exhibitions.