The Past is a  Foreign Country The Past is a  Foreign Country

Coinciding with the close of ‘John Vachon: Three Times in Poland’, Dom Spotkań z Historią are set to release an album inspired by this noteworthy photographic exhibition…

When American photographer, John Vachon, visited Poland in 1946 it was to record the activity of the UNRRA humanitarian mission. He returned twice more, this time as a photo journalist for Look magazine, in 1956 and 1963. His collection of photographs, the bulk shot in Warsaw, offer an unrivalled glimpse into the Poland of the past: one emerging from the shadow of war, a nation of despair and ruin. His pictures, almost poetic in nature, depict a country of strength and sadness, heartbreak and hope.

The exhibition – recently closed – and subsequent book, are a rare, almost unique glimpse into Poland’s recovery and the day-to-day lives of its people at the time. Deeply moving and endlessly compelling, Vachon’s photographs have been beautifully preserved and sensitively re-mastered. While John Vachon died in 1975, his legacy did not. Following close collaboration between his daughter, Ann, and Sławomir Rybałtowski, a Warsaw-phile who first stumbled on Vachon’s work online, the 2014 exhibition was created to mark what would have been the photographer’s 100th birthday. It was the first time many of his photographs of Poland had been viewed in the public domain. The photo album, slated for release at the end of October, ensures Vachon’s work will never again be forgotten.

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