In this series, entitled Lovely Planet: Poland, that I developed as part of the European Photo Exhibiton Award (epea) 03, I engage with the theme of travel in a country known to me previously only from history books and the media. I adopted a presentation style inspired by one of the most popular travel guides. In the manner recommended to tourists by Lonely Planet, I use the seven main categories as a way of getting to know the foreign country: places of interest, activities, shopping, sleeping, eating, transport, and guided tours. In texts added retrospectively to my photographic travel sketches, which comprise exhibits in their own right, I meditate on such topics as the national dishes Bigos and Pierogi as well as the country’s latest cultural achievements. This combination of text and image emphasizes both the fragility of meaning attached to visual signs and the challenges involved as a photographer in getting to know a country. When the spectator becomes a reader, fiction and reality are transformed into a balancing act. Sometimes the text belies the image, and sometimes the image is inappropriate for the text, or even undermines it.

This playful approach to the role of a tourist, to the genre of travel photography, and to the travel guide form allowed me to develop the ironic distance that reflected the melancholy humor that I encountered on my travels.

I covered more than 10,000 kilometers during my travels through Poland: from west to east, from Silesia to the Baltic coast, from the border with Belarus to the Ukrainian fron- tier. Throughout my journey I remained conscious of the random nature of my encounter moments that can be endowed with meaning by the simple fact of being photographed. Yet they remain fragments. Over the course of my travels, I encounter the future of Poland’s youth, the decay of workers’ housing on the outskirts of the city, people playing golf at a coal mine, and architecturally experimental shopping malls.