ANTONINA GUGAƁA

PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIOS

orig. Fotograf Warszawski

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The project explores different aspects of high street photographers’ professional activity. Antonina Gugala examines visual traces of general photography within the urban landscape of Warsaw. The collected images serve as a departure point for a thorough analysis of social functions held by general photographers and further studies of the language used by them to communicate with the environment.

In an attempt to preserve the memory of places commonly associated with general photography, the artist documented window displays of over eighty photography studios currently operating in Warsaw. The work highlights the presence of general photography in the urban landscape, drawing attention to the visual language used by high street photographers in order to attract passers-by.

Another element of the project is a collection of “diploma photos” made by local photographers. Gugala had her picture taken in every studio documented in the previous chapter of this work. A crucial factor of this experiment was to completely shift the responsibility for the final shape of the images to the high street photographers. A collection of portraits gathered in such a way allows viewers to explore the social and cultural codes of general photography.

Terence Wright’s concept of three different ways of perceiving photography: looking through, at and beyond an image, constitutes the theoretical framework for this work. The third approach being particularly inspiring, since it encourages the viewer to treat photography as an indicator of defined cultural patterns which determine what kind of behaviour is considered to be normative.

The entire collection of images and objects assembled under the title Photography Studios allows the viewer to independently analyse the role of general, or high street photography in the development of everyday aesthetics, as well as, in shaping the image of the photographic profession itself.
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*This project was made possible thanks to the City of Warsaw Art Scholarship, 2016.

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