Gliwice, 24 February 1971
Dear Krysia, Don’t be angry with me that I didn’t write back for so long, but I really didn’t have time for anything. So many classes accumulated at the Department that I couldn’t sit down to writing as I did before. And at home I was very busy with photography. I was constantly changing and changing these “searching works”. And it still isn’t like I wanted it to be. On top of it, because Dłubak moved the deadline, I tried various other things. Finally I sent three cycles, the ones you know, “Old eyes” (this was commissioned), a cycle about this magician from Pomerania and also these damaged posters, I only processed it a bit – and it was accepted.1 But the most demanding and best suited to my thoughts and moods was the cycle “Transformations”. Childhood, youth and old age. A montage of the same face enlarged six times against the backdrop of gates with appropriate shape. But it is not so easy, I couldn’t get thin and soft paper, polishing didn’t help much, etc. Finally I exhibited three works, but not like I wanted them to be, and now I am still changing it. Now one of the faces is too big, then too small, then too bright, then too harsh, etc.
I intended to send two sets to Cologne2 and Rome. It takes me every free moment and on top of it I am not sure if it makes any sense, like everything with me, too much content, which is not popular today. I am unable to do things only to “fool around” and “shock”. At times I am longing for ordinary photos, for making an exhibition, say, about the countryside. But is it worth to work hard, and then be criticised or even ridiculed? Yesterday I almost had a fight with Jurek L. [Lewczyński], who selected the photos for [illegible] with Łagocki. First he is waxing lyrical about conceptualism, claiming that figurative photography absolutely does not make any sense today and will never make any sense. And he says it very authoritatively, but then at the meeting of our Chapter about an exhibition we are going to make, he proposes the theme “The miner and the mine”. A theme which every year we are doing in a routine, boring way and for which we will be thrashed again, and when we had been travelling together by train to Katowice, we were saying, let’s hope that these “idiots” wouldn’t want another exhibition about Silesia. On top of it, knowing that recently I hadn’t even taken part in this exhibition, for this theme, like sports, completely doesn’t work for me, he proposes in a cheeky and almost irrevocable way that I should be the organiser of this exhibition. He has become so self-confident and conceited that me and Włodek [Jasieński] can’t bear it any more. [Piotr] Janik – admittedly not sober – lambasted him, calling him the worst names, but even that didn’t help. And unfortunately, it is down to him to choose the presentation for the Fot-Kin in Cologne and the Biennale in Rome. I don’t even want to do it.
You asked me for advice on what to do for the exhibition of the Free Chapter about Poland. I really can’t think about anything sensible at the moment – I can’t picture this exhibition at all, I don’t know what the selection criteria will be. Some photographers will be afraid to send anything, for they fear new judgements and currents, and these “avantguardists” shouldn’t send such pictures at all, for they would be going against their own principles. We were visited3 by Łagocki who gave a lecture about the “searching” photographers – he spoke very sensibly and almost produced an “enthusiasm”. We didn’t have such a good lecture, with a heated discussion (even those who never say anything spoke their minds), for a long time. Have you read the articles in Polityka and Kultura about the “Venus” exhibition4 , written so well by Bywalec5 and Kozicki, but probably ridiculous, nonetheless Klimczak6 believes himself to be the liberator of Poland from the shackles of obscurantism and prudishness. But let’s see what “Apollo7 will show.
At times I have a feeling that everything that is going on now is somehow hopeless and I succumb to a kind of depression. Fortunately spring and summer begin, and nature is the best cure all for apathy. Everything is ready for the trip to Italy, I think we are leaving on 15 August. And I will spend the rest of my vacation somewhere in Poland.
My schedule for March is full, I have to do 200 landscapes size 30 x 40 in sepia to make some money, and to finish by the end of March these large sets which I very much care about after all. And then I am to make an exhibition of reproductions of old postcards – old Gliwice, but this shouldn’t be so hard. Size 50 x 60. And also two 4 m photos to decorate a shop. And my dream is that there would be no deadlines and that I could make only the things I want to do. Kisses for you and yours Zosia
1) Searching Photographers, Galeria Współczesna, Warsaw, January 1971, curators Zbigniew Dłubak and Zbigniew Łagocki.
2) International Photographic Fair Photokina in Cologne.
3) At the Gliwice Photographic Association.
4) A cyclical national exhibition of photographic nudes and female portraits Venus organised since 1970 by the Kraków Photographic Association. The exhibition was first shown in Kraków and then toured the country.
5) The pseudonym with which Daniel Passent signed his columns in Polityka.
6) Władysław Klimczak, president of the Kraków Photographic Association, organiser of the Venus exhibition.
7) All-Poland Salon of Artistic Photography Apollo, BWA Gallery, Olsztyn (cyclical exhibition).