Paweł Starzec – Documentalist, photographer, sociologist. Mainly interested in correlations between space and its context, and in envisioning broader processes through their aftermath and peripherals. Visual sociologist, working in the field of modern iconography and visual narratives. Teacher at School of Form, SWPS University of Warsaw. Creator of workshop programs, co-founder of Azimuth Press art/education collective. Member of the Archive of Public Protest platform. Ph. D. candidate at Applied Sociology Department of University of Warsaw, student of Institute of Creative Photography of Silesian University in Opava (MA). Part-time musician and sound artist.
History is a settlement within a community that establishes the way a community remembers past events. It serves an unprecedented role in organising and maintaining the state. Relying on history means creating an order of the present time, rooted in the past. It can be constructed from scratch, when there’s a need for that. A group of people with an identical perception of past events becomes bonded with collective consciousness.
The nation, as an ethnic group with an organised state, among its constitutive features includes sharing the same historical and cultural conditions. The culture of a community is based on a shared history, taking the shape of the order of facts that was established.
By common saying, that’s winners who write history.
Makeshift is a project on rewriting history in Bosnia and Hercegovina, focusing on mass atrocities of Bosnian War, places where they were committed, and their erased context. In most cases, places used to keep, torture, rape and murder civilians were renovated after the war, and thus restored to their former purpose of buildings of public utility. History is a collectively set narration, so it has the ability of being rewritten from scratch, to omit things that had to be forgotten. Given the fact that a vital part of events of Bosnian War of 1992-1995 is now concealed by new historical narrations to maintain the integrity of newly founded society of divided ethnical groups, it’s extremely important to analyse this conflict, the reasons behind it and the aftermath of it. A lot of them seem universal and beyond specific place and time, and thus could be easily repeated again. The entire landscape bears contamination that part of newly written history wants to erase.
In 2020 project was published as a digital piece in cooperation with Krzysztof Pijarski and Michał Szota, as a part of vnLab program.
Zersetzung is a word without proper translation, roughly meaning decomposition in German. It’s also a name given by the officers of Stasi to the complex tactic utilised against any person that was perceived as a possible threat for the regime of German Democratic Republic. Zersetzung was in fact a psychological warfare technique, designed to damage mental health of a person it was applied to by subtly undermining all aspects of one’s life, using a variety of methods of sabotage.
Unification of Germany was completed on 3rd of October, 1990, and as it was prepared, on 23rd of August the GDR Volkskammer officially stated the state’s will to access West Germany, and to accept Western laws as their own 30 years later, the situation in Germany isn’t that simple that it might seem. The division is still clearly visible in many statistics, covering things from wealth and welfare to opinion on free immigration. The notion that the East – it’s culture, heritage and everyday life of its citizens – had became invisible after the unification is persistent; the economical fall of former Eastern Germany after the unification is a factor as well. Ostalgie, nostalgia for the East, had been coined as a term covering not only Trabi adventure companies, but also growing sentiment of Ossis – former citizens of GDR, and residents of ex-GDR part of Germany – towards their former homeland that voluntarily ceased to exist. 30 years after the last Zersetzung – this time aimed towards the state itself – I’m interested in what remained of GDR heritage and identity of Eastern Germans after reunification of Germany, and what were the side effects of this process.
Anew is a documentary project about Lower Silesia – a region that passed into Polish hands in 1945. The historical perspective of these areas, post-German character and traces of history have already been researched and recognized in documentary projects, but the present identity of these areas remains beyond attention. What is particularly interesting, the region and its capital are a model exaple of the problems of contemporary Poland – from the economic stratification between the negative unemployment rate in the capital and the economic collapse of the former mining region in Wałbrzych, through the myth of multiculturalism implemented by economic migrants from the East and the Korean middle class, overseeing the operation of factories in special economic zones, while the city holds a status of the capital of the Polish extreme right. Wrocław is also the 2016 European Capital of Culture, which has done a lot to prevent the functioning of the cultural environment based on the voluntary work of animators and idealists. The same region, however, has a status of low-budget Hollywood, with most of soap operas of Polish TV being produced there. Lower Silesia is an area with special conditions – the identity written by former repatriates from scratch, meets with enormous economic stratification, changes in the landscape and the labor market, or economic migration. I want to look at the contemporary identity of the region 75 years after its transition to Poland.
The series incorporate parts of my older documentary projects, “Loss”, “A Mountain” and “Development”.
Work in progress.
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