'Poland' for Export

30.03 – 23.06.2019 'Poland' for Export

Zachęta – National Gallery of Art

curators: Marta Przybyło, Karolina Puchała-Rojek
collaboration on the part of Zachęta: Magdalena Komornicka
collaboration on the part of the Archaeology of Photography Foundation: Antonina Gugała, Anna Hornik, Aleksandra Jeglińska
exhibition design: Fish n’sheep (Aneta Faner, Piotr Duma)
partners of the ezhibition: The National Library in Warsaw, Archaeology of Photography Foundation, KARTA Center, The National Digital Archives

Millions of spreads, 16 language versions, several hundred authors of photographs, three basic editions, two of which were published almost continuously from 1954 to 1989 (version for the West) and 1990 (version for the East) — that is the impressive picture of the Poland monthly in numbers. The monthly, although it also functioned in a limited scope in a Polish language version, was intended primarily for foreign readers — both in Western Europe and Eastern Bloc countries, as well as in the United States, Africa, Asia, and for a short time, even in Cuba. Its aim was to show Poland to the outside, beyond the borders of the country, with the use of a specific strategy based on an attractive graphic design and photography understood as a fully-fledged form of expression.

The editors of the magazine understood the key role of photography and used its capabilities to create ideas about Poland as an attractive and modern country — an inspiration in the field of culture and art, and a potential economic partner. Among the authors of texts, photographers and artists publishing their works who collaborated with the monthly, we will find nearly all the most important creators of the mainstream of post-war Polish culture. The photographers include Piotr Barącz, Marek Holzman, Irena Jarosińska, Jan Jastrzębski, Eustachy Kossakowski, Bogdan Łopieński, Jan Morek, Tadeusz Rolke, Zofia Rydet, Tadeusz Sumiński, Harry Weinberg. Works by most of them, on loan from private archives and institutions, will be displayed at the exhibition.

The exhibition covers the period from the publication of the first issue of the magazine (1954) — during the ‘Thaw’, when the post-war Polish reportage was developing — to the beginning of the so-called Gierek decade. The end of the 1960s is also a moment of generational change, when reporters born after the war enter the stage. In 1967, the publisher of the monthly also changed — it was taken over by the Interpress Agency, which gradually introduced new rules of collaboration with photographers.

‘Poland’ for Export presents almost 300 photographs shown in their original context — on the pages of the monthly magazine — juxtaposed with unpublished photographic material. Shots from outside the frame or stories revolving around the reportage shed new light on the work of photographers and editors, as well as the editorial strategies of the magazine. Therefore, we will see layouts from the original issues of the magazine, as well as prints, negatives and contact sheets from private archives and collections of many institutions. This diverse selection reveals the complex context in which photography functions, without which it is impossible to understand not only the history, but also the role of contemporary press photography in Poland.

The exhibition is accompanied by the book The Beginning of the Future. Photography in the Poland Monthly in 1954–1968, edited by Karolina Puchała-Rojek and Marta Przybyło, designed by Magdalena and Artur Frankowski (Fontarte). The publication consists of original illustrative material from the magazine supplemented by a selection of photographs — presented in a thematic arrangement with editorial comments. It is accompanied by essays devoted to the history of the monthly and showing its operations in the context of the political and social situation of the time. It is additionally supplemented by presentations of the most important photographers cooperating with it — key figures in the history of Polish photography of that period.

The presentation at Zachęta is supplemented by a film programme and a series of events, including meetings, lectures and workshops, both bringing closer the history of the Poland magazine and referring to the contemporary realities of photojournalism and magazine design. Special emphasis will be put on the role and place of photojournalism and the publishing process.

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  • Grafika wydarzenia: Curatorial walk-through accompanying the exhibition of "»Poland« for Export" (in Polish)
    31.03 (Sun) 12:15
    Curatorial walk-through accompanying the exhibition of "»Poland« for Export" (in Polish)
    Zachęta – National Gallery of ArtZachęta


'Poland' for Export
30.03 – 23.06.2019

Zachęta – National Gallery of Art
pl. Małachowskiego 3, 00-916 Warsaw
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Godziny otwarcia:
Tuesday – Sunday 12–8 p.m.
Thursday – free entry
ticket office is open until 7.30 p.m.