An exhibition of photographs by Zelda Klimkowska titled "Fellows and Colleagues" is underway at the Museum of Warsaw's Praga district. The exhibition shows portraits of Praga residents - acquaintances and strangers, taken at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries. The photos show not only their protagonists in the foreground, but also the district changing along with its residents.
At the turn of the 1990s and the first decade of the 2000s, numerous art studios, photography studios, independent theaters and clubs began to spring up throughout Prague. The new artistic "migration" had to arrange its neighborly relations with the neighborhood's residents, hence the exhibition's title: "Fellows and Colleagues."
For individual portraits, Zelda Klimkowska mainly invited people she met on a daily basis: a saleswoman from the corner store, a regular at a nearby café, the "caretaker" of the Inżynierska 3 courtyard. She asked her models to indicate the location of the photo session, preferably in a private space where the portrayed would feel at ease.
The photographs presented are not only my creation, they are negotiated with the subjects. I look at them warmly, do not judge them, and even admire their specific beauty. - says the cinematographer.
The result is an artistically valuable and unique record of a time of transformation of the image of Prague.
You could feel the atmosphere of a small town in this district
photo by Teodor Klincewicz
Anna Kraus: You settled in Praga North in the 1990s. What did Praga look like then? How did it differ from today's?
Zelda Klimkowska: It was a relic of the past. Very picturesque, though severely neglected. The originality of the district came from this neglect. The architecture, the preserved details of the decoration, the original tiles in the gates, the old inscriptions on the houses of the former owners, the beautiful staircases, the cool view from the top floor of the tenement to the other side of the Vistula, to Canaletto's panorama of the old city. I remember that we saved the cast-iron courtyard sinks and those tiles in the gates that the administration wanted to paint over, and those people, the originals, captured in my photos. You could feel the small-town atmosphere in this neighborhood. The lady from the vegetable shop, by name, informed me what my son had bought today, what he had eaten, what was at school. The lady from the meat shop gave products "for the notebook" if I ran out of money, in the bakery you could still buy real bread. There were also a few marketplaces, where housewives from suburban villages sold. These marketplaces functioned on the basis of a deaf phone call, where and when your neighbor informed you.
Excerpt from Anna Kraus' interview with Zelda Klimkowska. Full interview available on the website of the Museum of the City of Warsaw
© Muzuem Miasta Warszawy
Zelda Klimkowska was born in Gdansk in 1959. She graduated from the Department of Sculpture at the State Higher School of Fine Arts in Gdansk in 1986 in the studio of Associate Professor Edward Sitek. She lives in Warsaw. She works in sculpture, stage design, photography and choreography. In 1991-2006 she participated in group exhibitions in Warsaw, Bydgoszcz, Katowice, Plock, Szczecin, France (Strasbourg, Die) and Greece (Thessaloniki). She has had solo exhibitions in Warsaw - Melon Gallery, Academia Theater, Kokon club. She is also known as an animator of art projects related to Prague, including "Neighbors for Neighbors".