Łukasz Trzciński, 'The New Europe'

Espace Photographique Contretype (Brussels)
14/09/11 - 16/10/11
Lukasz Trzcinski, Ada, Tiraspol/Transdniestr/Moldova, from the cycle "Take me" (2009-2010), part of the "New Europe project (1999-. ), 130 x 167 cm Lukasz Trzcinski, Ada, Tiraspol/Transdniestr/Moldova, from the cycle "Take me" (2009-2010), part of the "New Europe project (1999-. ), 130 x 167 cm

Lukasz Trzciński’s The New Europe exhibition @ Contretype

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 Lukasz Trzciński’s (born: 1975) The New Europe exhibition at Contretype tells the story of the transformations inscribed upon the states of the former Soviet Bloc in a series of photographs from dozens of journeys and years of laborious work as a photographer. To better understand this monumental series, we need to recall the historical and biographical context. In the mid 1990s, Trzciński was just beginning his career as a photojournalist, and was chiefly interested in changing Polish realities. The pictures he took for the leading mass-market press titles illustrated the turbo-capitalist transformation of the social and cultural landscape.
Apart from his work for the press, Lukasz Trzciński tackled increasingly difficult subjects both in Poland and abroad. His interest in world issues bore fruit in numerous series, such as those taken in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Palestine. He has received many awards at the Polish Press Photography Competition – his works have twice been named Photograph of the Year (1999, 2002). Trzciński also broke into international circulation, winning awards at Pictures of the Year International (2004, 2006) photo-reportage competitions. He gradually departed from responding to current events, as dictated by the needs of the press, and took the more analytical route of the documentary photographer.
For the past few years, his main concern has been Central/Eastern Europe. The post-communist state of the region is the subject of the basic project Trzciński took up a few years after the European Union adopted its new member states in 2004. The New Europe is a series of over a dozen photographic essays, each devoted to a particular country. In each country of the former socialist bloc the photographer sought a theme that would best render the essence of the social, economic, or cultural changes that were underway.
Thus, in Poland the subject of his photography series was Nowa Huta – one of many new cities built to create the ideal man of the new system. In Estonia he became interested in young stateless people of Russian extraction, representatives of the minority left over from the USSR, which makes up nearly one third of the population. In the Czech Republic he chose the suburban summer homes constructed en masse under communism and still in use. Like the beaches of Hungary’s Lake Balaton, these homes were meant to serve as a dream alternative to foreign travel, which was practically impossible. In Moldova, meanwhile, the photographer investigated women who placed amateur photographs on the Internet, seeking to find foreign husbands, and to start a better life in the West.
Of equal importance to the choice of subject in Lukasz Trzciński’s work is the technique and convention he uses to make his statements. His spectrum ranges from atelier portraits to architectural typologies, black-and-white humanist photo-reportage, and social, engaged documentary photography. In The New Europe, what seems essential is the need to depict processes that could be seen as not just local or regional, but as wider, even global issues. On the other hand, Trzciński does not lose touch with the reality of the places he visits and documents. He is not a tourist photographer se Trzciński remains an insider who is well-versed in the specifics of a place, and cuts to the bone of post-communist New Europe."

Adam Mazur, 'The New Europe' curator

The exhibition The New Europe is produced by Imago Mundi at Krakow and is featured in the frame of the Polish EU Presidency 2011.

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