The city regained. Documentary photography of Warsaw 1918-1939


A picture story about the city, a stroll down the streets and hidden corners of pre-war Warsaw, a close encounter with its inhabitants.

Thursday 28 March, 6:00 pm — Friday 3 May 2019, 6:00 pm

Polish Institute

Budapest, Nagymező u. 15.

The city regained

Documentary photography of Warsaw 1918-1939

We are proud to present the exhibition Regained. Documentary photography of Warsaw  1918-1939 as part of the centenary celebrations of regaining independence by Poland. It is a picture story about the city, a stroll down the streets and hidden corners of pre-war Warsaw, a close encounter with its inhabitants. The exhibition curators, Anna Brzezińska and Katarzyna Madoń-Mitzner, aimed to reveal how the capital of the Second Polish Republic was changing and developing in only 20 years between the two wars and what the Warsaw street was absorbed in at that time. 

Katarzyna Madoń-Mitzner: some of the themes are still topical, some evoke nostalgia, whereas others amuse or surprise by their idiosyncrasy. Yet some of them touch, defy the stereotypical perfect image of the capital of the Interwar Poland. We wish to show the real degree of independence in that epoch.

The curators evoke the images of life of the capital back in the day thanks to the original selection of pre-war press photography. 

Anna Brzezińska: The photographers from the twenties and the thirties of the 20th century were the pioneers of reportage photography in Poland. 135 films, such as Leica with its excellent sharp focus lens, were gaining in popularity.  Light and compact equipment allowed for unrestricted mobility and proximity to the photographed object. Thanks to the photographers’ passion and professionalism we may now admire this fantastic photographic documentary.

The photographers captured various aspects of city life as well as its key events. We will see different districts and streets, not only in the glamorous Śródmieście (city centre) but also in Powiśle, Czerniaków, as well as the Northern District, inhabited mainly by the Jewish population. Warsaw at the time was struggling with such social problems as poverty, homelessness, and unemployment, highlighted in the exhibition as well. On the other hand, it was the period of dynamic modernization of the city and development of Warsaw as the national capital. Shortly before the war a lot of edifices were erected, such as Prudential, the Courts in Leszno, Służewiec Horse Racetrack or Warsaw Main Railway Station, which burnt down in 1939, still before its official opening.

The exhibition is in the official program of Budapest Photo Festival.

Organized by: History Meeting House (Dom Spotkań z Historią), Polish Institute

The main partner: the National Digital Archives

Partners: the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN) Archive in Warsaw,  „Stolica” monthly

Curators: Anna Brzezińska, Katarzyna Madoń-Mitzner

Coordination: Anna Adamczyk

Design: Pracownia KotBury, Krzysztof Ducki

On view Mondays through Wednesdays 9 am – 8 pm, Thursdays through Fridays 9 am – 5 pm until 3. May 2019.

Polish Institute – Budapest, VI. Nagymező u. 15.