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Street Exhibition – Bringing Art to the People

This is probably the first time in history, such a large-scale project of photographic exhibitions and art, in general, took place in urban space. The selected works were glued on posters in public places of four of the largest Polish cities: Warsaw, Krakow, and Poznan

The assumption was simple – bringing art to the people. Moving away from the traditional ways of presenting works and to use empty urban space as a place for exhibitions. In a thicket of artists presenting their works in networks and on smaller or larger stationary exhibitions, each other attempt to present art in a similar way, is at the start doomed to pigeonhole, as one of many exhibitions presented in the same form, which may seem a bit hackneyed and boring for the average recipient. I believe that this street photography exhibition is an innovative use of the culture of street art combined with the primal desire to present one’s own artistic creation to a wider audience. Posters are an ordinary part of the urban scheme, so every pedestrian unwittingly becomes the attendee of an exhibition, without the need for any additional steps and without the need to plan a certain amount of time to visit the exhibition. Looking at the technical side, posters were glued under the cover of the night, using so-called “nobody places” against the law, which bans to put up posters in public under the penalty of a fine. Despite this, most of the posters persisted throughout the planned duration of the exhibition, and everything ended without any major legal problems.

Another very important (in fact the most important) element of the project is the topic of the exhibited works, which is closely related to this new way of showing work in the public sphere. Presented photos show a wide variety of street life. These photos provide a sociological look at modern man – his life, behavior, habits, place in the world, his actions and the results of those actions. No matter what the photo depicts, my photographs are mostly about the ordinary everyday situations shown in a unique way, without glitches, but only with a sense of time, which creates often a rather abstract dimension of everyday life. Considering this form of exhibiting photography, you can undoubtedly say that the photographs return to exactly where they came from – the street.

I didn’t really decide to become an artist and to be honest calling me an artist makes me feeling a little shy. It’s a very strong word to use I think and it is used too frequent in our world nowadays. But maybe this is not a bad thing, maybe it’s correct to call everyone who creates something an artist? Hard to say… I prefer to use this word rather carefully.

So. if I can be called an artist, I would say that my interest in art came quite naturally. In high school, I wanted to have my own camera, so I could play a little with photography. I had some ideas, some inspiration and I wanted to have a tool, with which I could try to express them. When my parents gave me my first camera, it all began.

The next step for me was to start my first photo blog on a Polish photo blogging platform, which I ran for a couple of years. When I look back, it was an amateurish endeavor, but I was learning more about photography through it.

Another milestone in my personal career was my adventure with music photography. I photographed nearly 100 concerts for two years and overall it was a huge photography lesson for me. Through this, I improved my technique and I gained the ability to sense the correct lighting and moment, which I believe had a great influence on my later passion for street photography.

One day I found out that this Polish blog platform I chose, in the beginning, was limiting me in some ways. I thought, that the world is so big and full of people, who potentially could like my works and I decided to change the place where I was posting my pics to Tumblr. And as it later turned out, it was a breakthrough for my photography progress, my way of perceiving photography and art in general and as a consequence for my whole career. Tumblr has become my window to the world of art. You know, Tumblr is full of artists presenting their work as well as showing extracts from their career. I saw how many people work in a similar way to me, I was watching their determination and love for art. It was very inspiring to connect with all of those people. I can say that exploring Tumblr helped me to open up my mind.

When I started blogging on Tumblr, I was wondering how to get featured in Tumblr’s ‘Spotlight’. I thought that it is completely impossible to make it and obviously I will never get there. But I decided to do my best and started to post a lot of my works, every day – it was a kind of willingness to show the whole world, that my photography is quite good… Then an amazing thing happened – after just a few weeks of posting on Tumblr, my blog was chosen by Tumblr’s staff as one of  the 100 most interesting photographer blogs on the whole platform, which totals over 300 million accounts. Sharing the list with such big names as Humans of New York, Kyle Thompson or David Guttenfelder was an incredible feeling. It was a huge motivational kick for me. From day to day my blog became more popular. A lot of my works started to be published and promoted by some of the most influential art internet services, such as SFMOMA or Design Milk.

Today, a work day is almost every regular day for me. I’m not used to going out to the streets only to shoot some pictures. If you are doing street photography you should have a camera with you all the time, so I have it and I can always use it. Basically, I’m working all the time and its great.

I can’t say that I have any difficulties with my creation process. I can say that there are some things which I don’t really like to do sometimes… like selecting my works for exhibitions and other projects or choosing which of my photographs I want to publish on my blogs. Sometimes I also have some problems with making decisions during the process of editing a single photograph. Sometimes it takes a few minutes, but often it may take an hour or more and in the end, I’m not happy about it and just leave it… but I think this is a quite normal thing when you create something, you care about it and you want it to be good or even perfect.

When we talk about photography, when I look at works of others I’m looking for the truth, the real, unposed situations of everyday life. I’m looking for a good street photograph… I love to see the connection between people and the world that surrounds them. I don’t really like posed photography. I mean – maybe I like it sometimes but I don’t look for it. I have this strong feeling, that unposed photographs, when people don’t even know that they are photographed, are the only photographs that can really move me in some way. Of course I don’t want to be conservative in this case. It’s only about the generalization of the topic and it’s very subjective. When you are looking at good street photos you can learn a lot about the world, people, their habits, places they live, things they do. I believe that this kind of photography expands human horizons and moves their feelings. Street photography, like documentary photography, shows the reality, but in my opinion documentary photography is devoid of truth in some way cause usually everything in the frame is thought out and set. On the other hand, street also documents reality but it has a certain freedom and truth. When you see it you are reassured that reality is not as boring as you may think…

Tomasz Margol

Photographer from Częstochowa, Poland. Focused mostly on street photography and everything connected with the unposed photography. Living and working in Kraków, Poland.

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