In the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, Polish photographers were often the only women in male-dominated teams or worked independently. The exhibition “The Only Ones. Untold Stories of Polish Female Photographers” in frame of Fotofestiwal International Festival of Photography in Lodz, Poland will take viewers through their stories and photos.
The exhibition covers a wide range of perspectives on Polish photography from the 1970s to the 1990s. It presents photos of political and sports events, along with everyday life scenes and people’s portraits. Visitors will also have the chance to see the photographers’ cameras, publications, contact sheets and other souvenirs.
Featured photographers focused on various kinds of photography. Some worked as photo editors or as heads of photo departments in newspaper editorial offices. Their works were published in acclaimed Polish and foreign newspapers, magazines and albums, and shown at exhibitions. For many of them, photography has been a way of life.
As Monika Szewczyk-Wittek says: “I wanted to recall the time of analogue photography. Contemporary female photographers, who are fortunately growing in numbers, use various tools for promoting and communicating their work. Today, it takes just a few moments for a photograph taken digitally to be shared with anyone, anywhere in the world. The authors of the photos presented at the exhibition worked in a completely different reality, when the process of creating a picture was very laborious. Together with them, I chose both published and previously unseen photographs. Most of the authors have never fully digitized their works. Several of them, including Maja Sokołowska, Agnieszka Sadowska, and Anna Pietuszko-Wdowińska, have irretrievably lost part of their collections; others don’t have full access to their archives from that period. Hence, the selection of photos for the exhibition had its limitations. While working on the exhibition, I also asked myself many questions. The most important of them is whether the photos from those years have stood the test of time? What can we learn from the photographers presented at this exhibition?”.
The curator of the exhibition is Monika Szewczyk-Wittek — a photo editor and curator, author of numerous interviews with photographers. Initiator of projects promoting photography. Co-author of the “We Are All Photographers” project. Head of the archiving and digitization project concerning the collection of TR Warszawa. Co-curator of the exhibition Family album: Multiple Gazes and Pawel Pierscinski archive project. She teaches photo edition and ethics of photography at the University of Warsaw. Scholarship holder of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the Pilecki Institute in Berlin. Her first book The only ones. Untold stories of Polish Female Photographers was published in 2021.
Authors: Anna Beata Bohdziewicz, Anna Maria Brzezińska, Iwona Burdzanowska, Joanna Helander, Marzena Hmielewicz, Anna Michalak-Pawłowska, Anna Musiałówna, Anna Pietuszko-Wdowińska, Agnieszka Sadowska and Maja Sokołowska, as well as Anna Biała, Małgorzata Kujawka and Anna Łoś.
Curator: Monika Szewczyk-Wittek
Organizers: Fotofestiwal International Festival of Photography in Lodz, History Meeting House, Museum of the City of Lodz
ph. “Hairdressers”, Ruda Śląska, around 1980. Ph. Joanna Helander.