Another book about ruins? Yes and no! Yes, because the motive of ruins is a key visual topos for the identity of contemporary Warsaw. No, because our book does not address ruins as such but their photographic images. The photographers include outstanding artists and photojournalists like Bułhak, Capa, Dłubak and Seymour, but also lesser known but distinguished documentalists such as Henryk Poddębski. Most of the photographs are published here for the first time, revealing unknown or forgotten views of the city in a state of collapse.
The century of Warsaw ruins began with the destruction wreaked by the Russians withdrawing from the city in the summer of 1915, and ends with contemporary demolitions resulting from dynamic real estate development processes. It is ruins triumphal, traumatic and sentimental, as well as images that contribute to the critical debate over current urban policy. The obsessively recurring views of ruins have become familiar over the years in numerous aspects—a natural, everyday life function of the city, determining processes of transformation and development.
Project co-financed by the City of Warsaw
Henryk Poddębski, burnt-down railway infrastructure in Praga district, August 1915
Jan Kisieliński (?), dismantling of the Orthodox Cathedral on pl. Saski, March 1926
Marta Leśniakowska, Supersam store on pl. Unii Lubelskiej during demolition, December 2006
Franciszek Buchner, RUCH building (headquarters of the Institute of National Remembrance) on ul. Towarowa during demolition, November 2013