My exhibition “Post-German / Recovered” at Sztynort Palace

My exhibition “Post-German / Recovered” at Sztynort Palace

On 18th August 2020, my exhibition Post-German / Recovered opened at Sztynort Palace. Please find here some impressions of the exhibition and the exhibition text.

“Landscapes, similarly to architecture and the urban layout are subject to cultural influences. The way in which the fields and meadows are separated, the choice of trees growing around fields and lining the roads and avenues, the paths meandering around the meadows and forests, the fencing around the land plots and homes—these are the points of contact between nature and human action.

Nature is lasting, regardless of the state borders it formally finds itself in.

Nationalism, as a concept, is a very young phenomenon in the history of humankind and nationhood. It emerged during the process of industrialisation and was driven by the resulting greater mobility of people. With the popularisation of the steam engine and the expansion of the rail network, people started to cover greater distances in a shorter time scale. This influenced a person’s sense of belonging. Those travelling in modes different to walking or horse-drawn carts started to identify themselves with a greater geographical area, not just with their small homeland (Heimat in the German language).

Today, in the age of globalisation, opposite directions come to the fore of a reviving nationalism, globetrotting as a way of self-cognizance or self-promotion in social media, slow living and flight shaming, right up to the Europe of Regions and fostering local, subsidiary and transboundary actions.

The policy and concept of the European Union allow one to identify with a region that goes beyond the divides into state borders which, in a certain sense, takes us back to the past—to the times before the emergence of the concept of a nation and its allocation to a specific country. Today, the Heimat can, once again, become the sanctuary of a sense of identity in terms of belongingness.

Through my Masurian landscapes, I want to bring everything that lies beneath the first cognitive surface to the viewer’s attention. I am also reaching back to the past, revealing the regions where my family came from, only seemingly remaining outside the human context as the photographs do not depict people but landscapes and architectural motives. Leaving the human aspect out is, however, misleading because both architecture and the topography of the landscapes are works of art and, as such, have been formed by a human person. The rural areas of Warmia and Masuria largely refer to the Prussian past or are even to its image. This approach to photographing Masuria allows me to emphasise the timeless nature of the region. It is as though the motives on the photographs have been taken out of their geopolitical context and are difficult to attribute to a specific period in history because the pastures, forests, lakes, and even buildings presented by me could have also existed in the same shape and form a century ago.

This is our common cultural platform. Today, these regions are inhabited by the citizens of the Republic of Poland—but it was the Prussians who lived here 100 years ago. What a peculiar situation where the scenery and backdrop have remained the same but the actresses and actors have changed.

Poland’s membership in the European Union allows those who were born in these areas to not only freely move around the places of their childhood but also to return and settle there. Indeed, the concept of the Europe of Regions gains a whole new dimension in Warmia and Masuria as this is a region, albeit Polish-German, that territorially does not border with the Federal Republic of Germany.

Wandering around with a camera and exploring the lakes and forests of Warmia and Masuria one cannot but allow the mind to be imbued with the cultural influences of the earlier inhabitants of the region. Oblivious of this, those who were brought up in the area after the War concurrently absorb the culture of their families as well as of the people who established these very towns, villages, and settlements hundreds of years ago, yet who formally represent a different cultural region. These influences constantly intertwine and permeate each other, creating a new quality that is closely linked to the region but not to nationality or nationhood.

Through these works of mine, I endeavour to bring to the surface everything that seems so very ordinary and natural to us, almost to the point of being unworthy of our attention, but which nevertheless affects our sense of home/Heimat and what the persons driven out of the areas of the former East Prussia often refer to as an element of their nostalgia and longing for the past. This is our common ground—it is amidst these landscapes that German children were brought up 100 years ago and where Polish children play and are growing up today. Their senses are partaking in and sharing these experiences.

The national minority still inhabiting the lands of Warmia and Masuria has become assimilated and… invisible. In Germany likewise but in a converse configuration. The book of Emilia Smechowski has sparked a conversation on successful but invisible migrants—Polish women and men who have assimilated so well and seamlessly with the German culture that they are no longer perceived as foreigners.

I too was such a successful but invisible migrant. In 1990, I emigrated with my parents to the Federal Republic of Germany where I completed school and got a degree. The term post-German in the context of the nature present in my home region also has a very personal dimension for me. My life in my home town of Idzbark after my return from emigration is precisely post-German and, sure enough, I no longer have access to pure Polishness (whatever it would be). My personality, my way of looking at the world, the nature present in my home region, my views, my knowledge of two languages on a mother tongue level are indeed an amalgam of Polish-German experiences.

What is post-German here and what is recovered?
I am searching for the answer to this question through my camera lens.”

“Here I stand” in Judy Chicago’s social media campaign “Create art for the earth”

“Here I stand” in Judy Chicago’s social media campaign “Create art for the earth”

On 1st June 2020, I took part in an Instagram campaign launched by artist Judy Chicago as well as the Turner Carroll Gallery (Santa Fe, USA) and the Serpentine Galleries (UK).

The aim of the Create art for the earth campaign was to raise awareness for humankind’s responsibility for the many changes on our planet.  I have decided to present Here I stand, a photograph from the The magic has arrived series taken in 2017 in my home village. The work, however (original photo print under acrylic glass) has been produced in May 2020 by Whitewall.
Take a look!

 

My photographs mainly depict landscapes in my home region in the north of Poland. They only seemingly avoid the human context because all landscapes are a part of human culture. Humankind exerts a tangible impact on nature and wildlife, unfortunately, more often than not, by manipulating and destroying it, yet humankind unquestionably is a guest of this planet. The socio-political concepts of humankind are all attempts to control specific parts of our surroundings but will inevitably be outlived by the continuity of life on this planet.

My works have intentionally been stripped of any geopolitical context which is why it’s not easy to date them. This is my way of raising awareness of nature and wildlife that exist irrespectively of national territories and the language(s) there spoken.

My home village and the lands surrounding it used to be part of Germany before the Second World War. After they became a part of Poland, the people settling here would refer to it as the post-German lands. Bearing in mind the larger context, it is evident that all creatures on earth constitute vital links between the “pre-something” and the “post-something”. All beings on earth are carriers of life with the potential to convey it further like a torch.

For its own species, every being ─ whether horse or human ─ comes as one but stands as 10,000.
And we have no idea just how many there may be in times to come.

With this awareness, how could one possibly blow someone’s torch out?

Life matters.

 

WHAT’S NEW at CPP: Photographs printed on Dibond®

WHAT’S NEW at CPP: Photographs printed on Dibond®

Quality is one of the most important factors for us at Crystal Palace Productions. The quality of our products, services, and collaboration with other firms, artists, institutions and, generally, the quality of lives. That’s why, when deciding to purchase photographs by Olga Żmijewska, you are guaranteed to receive the highest quality prints on gallery-quality photographic paper along with a certificate of authenticity. Today, we’re introducing a new form into our offer – photographs printed on Dibond®. This form does not require any frame mounting and is ready to hang to beautifully decorate any space.

In Dibond aluminium composite panels, the photos are printed on the highest quality, traditional Kodak photographic paper with a UV protective laminate. Pictures printed in this way are then mounted onto a lightweight, durable and sturdy aluminium Dibond panel. On the back of the panel there are special strips (split-battens) which are cut at an angle and lock together, placing the photo panel 20mm from the wall, giving an aesthetic, frameless look. This is how photos are often mounted in galleries, museums, and outdoor exhibitions, but in offices and homes, too. It’s the perfect way to display exceptional photographs in a hard-wearing, long-lasting and fade-resistant way. These prints are ideal for kitchens and bathrooms since they can withstand high heat and humidity.

• Technology: Lambda photographic printing.
• Paper: traditional, high quality Kodak photographic paper.
• High quality, UV fade resistant laminate.
• Prints are adhered securely to a stable and rigid aluminium Dibond panel.
• Special mounting system gives a sleek, floating look where aluminium strips (split-battens) are fixed approximately 20 mm away from the wall. These prints are ready to hang and do not need to be framed.

All the photographs available at the store can also be ordered on Dibond. We hope you enjoy our work and we look forward to your custom!

Even larger format!

Even larger format!

What would you say about an even larger photograph format?

Crystal Palace Productions is making another, this time truly massive, step forward. One could say, a large-format step forward. We are just embarking on the production and sale of 100x160cm photographs!
The first work that has been printed for us by our partner studio Printed.com from Warsaw is the “Homecoming” motif, which presents itself brilliantly in this format.

It is now available to order on our Online Store.

Exhibition 100 Jahre – 100 Augenblicke: Polen heute

Exhibition 100 Jahre – 100 Augenblicke: Polen heute

The day before my 37th Birthday, that is, on 2nd November 2018, I treated myself to something exceptional and took part in the vernissage of the exhibition 100 Jahre – 100 Augenblicke: Polen heute (100 years – 100 glances: Poland today), held in the beautiful, post-industrial interiors of the public library in Frankfurt Sachsenhausen. One hundred photographs depicting contemporary Poland, including 9 photographs of my authorship, were displayed at the exhibition commemorating the centenary of the Republic of Poland regaining independence.

At the event under the patronage of the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Cologne and opened by His Excellency Consul General of the Republic of Poland, Jan Sobczak, Exhibition guests could view four themes from the Silesia series and five themes from the Varmia series. The Cumulus theme, 80 cm x 80 cm, introduced the exhibition.

 

Postcards from heaven

Postcards from heaven

0.05.2018

Crystal Palace Productions will soon launch its online store where you will be able to purchase limited editions of prints and copies as well as my own postcards with motifs of my family village, Idzbark, and environs.

Here are the first six, which are now available directly from me in the small village of Idzbark: