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Arkadiusz Kubisiak


W-WA – Warsaw, Poland, 2019 – 2022

I photographed Warsaw for three years. I came here to photograph whenever I could find a couple of hours in the day. My trips were many.

The city is uncontrollable, enormous. I have control over practically nothing. Yet I’m not overwhelmed by that fact. It elicits a feeling of freedom, perhaps even impunity. The whole time, I am confronted by the decision of others. I have contrasting experiences, like smell of urine and the aura of expensive perfume, movement, tumult.

For me, the city space is mainly streets, and I am strangely connected with this space and everything that happens in it.

For the observant, a journey through the city reveals its variety, its little universes with no common parts, which clash in an often unbearable juxtaposition. Building of a historical telephone operator, now a symbol of the Polish resistance after being fought for in the Warsaw Uprising, next to the Bank of China. An exclusive Italian restaurant, the Supreme Court, works of famous artists on the street, and then another memory of war and destruction. The police stopped somebody. Driving tickets are expensive these days. Mine came in the mail for parking on Świętokrzyska, one of the main streets in Warsaw. Museum of History of the Polish Jews, young Indians throwing colorful powder at each other during the Festival of Colors, St. John the Baptist Cathedral. I look at the historical buildings of Warsaw and see the river from a distance. A robot is serving latte on platform 4. Polish medieval hymn about Holy Mary and a military helicopter. The times of great warriors and the time of Apocalypse Now. An elderly Warsaw activist, whom they call Grandma Kasia, was dragged by her legs. Her shoes fell off.

Warsaw, a rapidly growing population, a muse, the subtlety of a woman, shield, and sword, red line, defense, and offense. Our Lady of Grace, Miracle on the Vistula. The city has a deep history, but most of what I see has risen from rubble in the 1950s.

I experience everything. Besides photography, the search for wonder is the next most important thing happening to me. Several times I said to myself, I will not come here again. I did. I came here all the time. I am grateful for those experiences.

Arkadiusz Kubisiak

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