Inside Out Poznan – histories against the History

Poznań, Poland

6 Portraits - December 2016


Inside Out Poznan focuses on individuals living 'next to us'. By zooming in on selected problems and characters, it shall be possible to notice that cities are not unequivocal, they consist of multi-faceted collection of individuals. The project should increase awareness, while at the same time, decrease indifference towards the presented social problems. Confrontation with a photograph showing an excluded, forgotten, overwhelmed by trauma person will create a possibility to meet the Other. We will be forced to notice their presence, and perhaps this encounter shall turn into a social therapy, which shall lead to discovering each other. Perhaps the people posing in the photographs will have a chance to find out something about themselves.

Inside Out Poznan is an action often referred to as 'a project, which has got a potential to change the world'. Those words may seem native, but they reflect the real influence of Inside Out on communities. The curating panel chose three groups, which are going to be featured in the project: people, who actively participated in 1956 Poznan's June; immigrants living in Poznań; and former soldiers suffering from PTSD. The curators shall not only introduce images of those people into city's public space, but they also will create an art album showing pictures of selected people with texts summarising stories told by them. The portraits of selected people will be displayed in the public space of Poznań in locations meaningful for the city. For example, in places which carry a memory of difficult historical moments, or they are subjected to revitalisation and in doing so their memory is brought back. The works shall appear in places, which are not normally associated with art and its presence, in places where they cannot be easily ignored.

The Poznań theme is consistent and refers to the issues of searching for freedom, fighting and negative influences of war acts. At the time of peace, those issues have suddenly become very problematic in our city. We grew aware of it during the celebration of 1956 Poznan's June, or after attacks on people, whose origin, skin colour or religion for many signifies worldwide terrorism. The project aims at shaking the perception of a city as a homogeneous entity devoid of hidden problems. The project focuses on bringing to light the histories which are usually ignored by the Great History, and which, in fact, lay fundaments for that Great History. We intend for the meetings with the selected people to result with not only photographs, but also short conversations, interviews, or stories. The selected conversations, pictures and text will form an art album, which shall put in opposition the individual micro-narration with Great Narrations – historical, political, martial.

JR formulated the following question: ' Can art change the world? Perhaps we should change that question: can art change lives of people?' We believe deeply that the answer to the last question is positive. We would like to introduce the project into the space of Poznań, so that it is possible to draw attention to three selected social groups and give them the voice, let them 'speak'. At the same time, we know that a confrontation with the Hidden allows the viewers to change not only their lives, but also the way of viewing their lives' certain aspects.

The Portraits

The first depicted group comprises of people who took part in the events of Poznan's June. We would like to show their images in the public space of Poznan because of the historical character of those past events and present political challenges, which elevated the celebrations of June events and pushed people involved in the events. Depicting them on large scale print-outs will serve as a way of giving back to them what present time robs them off — proper remembrance. It will also create an opportunity for passers-by to turn their attention to 1956 events. They will become a bit more accessible thanks to people, not speeches.
Curator: Adrianna Dębowska

The second group comprises of refugees and immigrants living in Poznan. These people' lives were influenced by the war happening hundreds of kilometres away. The project does not only concentrate on people, who search for their freedom and security in Poznan, who run away from war in their countries, it also focuses on people who are attacked and received as aggressors because of their faith, origin or skin colour. They are often mistakenly taken responsible for worldwide terrorism. The number of racist attacks in Poznań is increasing. For that reason, Poznan can no longer be seen as a safe place for some people, for others, it is still a place, which brings hope for a different story. For both groups, the fight for freedom is not finished yet. Through the act of showing the images of those individuals in large-scale formats, we would like to highlight their right to be in the city.
Curator: Mira Skrudlik

The third group selected by the curators is represented by soldiers suffering from PSTD and other disfunctions stemming from the character of their work. The problem of PSTD is often non-existent in social awareness of Poles. The Great Narration – the discourse of war — is contrasted with individual histories, which will enable us to look at the issue from a different, personal perspective. The undertakings will help to lay bare the fact that war sufferings concern trained and, in theory, prepared for war soldiers. The problem of PSTD has become a burning issue due to the increase in suicides rates committed by soldiers. Showing their stories and images can serve a therapeutic function for not only the people telling their stories, but also for the society, which will become aware of this important and present problem. The stories shown also function as a way of questioning the popular expression: peaceful war. The project clearly shows that the victims of that peaceful war are soldiers. The form of the representation will not employ shock, commonly present in war photojournalism, but it will focus on excluded people who are unable to function healthily in the society. Conversations with the individuals will be carried out through the phone or with the use of any other internet communicator i.e.: Skype.
Curator: Anna Zielazny

Into The Wild

These photos show the posters pasted in the streets