Eustachy Kossakowski: "Six meters before Paris"

Author: Eustachy Kossakowski

©Copyright by: Anka Ptaszkowska

Negatives and slides owned by: Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw

A collection of pictures by the remarkable photographer will be displayed at the New Horizons Cinema in Wrocław as a feature of the 13th T-Mobile New Horizons International Film Festival.

Taken in 1971, the series is a product of two young Polish emigrants strolling through Paris suburbs. During one of those trips, Eustachy Kossakowski saw a road sign reading "Paris". His short comment, it's worth shooting, began the whole story. After a lengthy reconnaissance, much like during a treasure hunt, it turned out that signs of this sort are placed along the city limits, by streets leading from the suburbs to downtown. There are 159 such signs in total, and all of them were shot from a distance of 6 meters. Each occupies a portion of the picture on its symmetry axis. The photos show random depictions of the partly sad and disordered, but otherwise fascinating reality of the outskirts of Paris, so different from the prevalent images of the Eiffel Tower or the Grand Palais. At the time, it was noted that the letters reading ‘Paris’ associate with the myth of the city, while the surroundings of the signs undermines it.

The collection was a big success in Paris and all over Europe. It was first displayed at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris, and then toured numerous European museums and art galleries, eventually finding its place at the Carnavalet Museum, which documents the history of the French capital. The collection was recognized by press and progressive artists as a radical break from the so-called humanist photography for the sake of an impartial look at the reality, which is what photography should be all about.

In 2012, the French publishing house Nous released a beautiful photo book dedicated to the Six meters before Paris collection, containing the 159 oversized pictures and 3 language captions by 5 outstanding authors:  Cezary Wodziński, Gerard Wajcman, Adam Mazur, Francois Barré, and Anka Ptaszkowska. The book accompanied the collection during the displays at the Freies Museum in Berlin and the Arton Foundation in Warsaw in 2012, and at the Czuły Barbarzyńca bookstore in Kraków, an event within the Photography Month, in 2013.

Eustachy Kossakowski bio

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