Dr Justyna Budzik (University of Silesia in Katowice)

Spectral Urbanscapes: Socialist Modernist Architecture in the Work of Contemporary Polish Photographers and Filmmakers

During the seminar I would like to reflect upon a clearly visible fascination of many Polish photographers: they seem preoccupied with decaying “specters” of the past (meaning: pre-1989) urban landscape that can be also understood as specters of the former political, social and existential era. This interest takes different aesthetic shapes: Nicolas Grospierre iphotographs the monument of modernist architecture and with the use of superimposed or multiplied images he creates a hyperbolic portrait of the “concrete jungle” or that what is left of Le Corbusier’s ideas; Paulina Korobkiewicz focuses on details, accentuating kitschy, funny but at the same time surreal space of small towns in-between the past and the present; Marek M. Berezowski travels through the (not only former) communist countries and captures the ironical similitude of the cities in transformation. On the other hand, Agnieszka Rayss explores the fluid boundaries of suburbia and traces their melting into nature. Filmmakers, as Tomasz Wasilewski for instance, create spaces of greyness and unfulfillment or, on the contrary, life that seems colorful and carefree. For the presentation I will select a few emblematic shots from the work of young but already renowned Polish photographers and filmmakers in an attempt to start a collection – an atlas or a map – testifying of some visual ideas of the post-1989 cities and towns that haunt these works as Derridian specters, even though the particular artists represent various styles and poetics.

Dr. Justyna Budzik is an assistant professor at the Department of Film and Media Studies at the University of Silesia, Katowice, and a teacher of Polish as a foreign language. In 2016/17 she taught Polish at the INALCO in Paris, France, and in 2017/18 she lectured at the University of Washington in Seattle, US, as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar. Her research is concentrated on media education and contemporary Polish cinema and photography. She has published two books on cinematic discourses and is the co-author of a textbook for teachers of Polish as a foreign language with the use of film: “Polska półka filmowa. Krótkometrażowe filmy aktorskie i animowane w nauczaniu języka polskiego jako obcego” (Katowice 2018, with Agnieszka Tambor). She runs a blog about her research and teaching: www.lekcjeofilmie.pl.