ANTONINA

GUGAƁA

PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIOS

orig. Fotograf Warszawski

Warsaw Photographer is a documentary project which presents various aspects of activity of Warsaw photography studios. Antonina Gugala examines the traces of presence of high street photographers within the capital city’s landscape. The material she collected serves as a departure point for recognition of social functions held by these photographers and for analysis of the language used by them in communication with their environment.

The author documented the window displays of over eighty photography studios which are currently operating in Warsaw. Her primary motivation was the will to preserve the memory of places commonly associated with photography. The project spotlights the presence of photography studios in the urban space and it draws attention to the visual language used by the high street photographers in order to attract passers-by.

Another element of the series is a collection of “diploma photographs” made by Warsaw’s photographers. The author had her picture taken in every studio documented in her work. A crucial factor of this experiment was to completely shift the responsibility for the final shape of the photographs to the high street photographers. The collection of author’s portraits gathered in such a way allows viewers to explore the social and cultural codes which rule the world of general photography.

The theoretical framework of the project was the concept that there are three different ways of perceiving photography: looking throughat and beyond a photograph, introduced by Terence Wright. The last approach seems to be particularly inspiring, since it encourages to treat photography as an indicator of certain defined cultural rules which determine what kind of behaviours we treat as normative. The entire collection allows the audience to independently analyse the role of general, or high street, photography in the development of everyday aesthetics, and also in shaping the image of the photographer’s profession.

City of Warsaw Art Scholarship, 2016

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