Family Values: Polish Photography Now is a unique season of photography and events examining Polish visual culture from the second part of the 20th century and the current creative landscape of a nation with deep historical and emotional links to the UK.
At the centre of the season sits the first exhibition devoted to Polish photography in the UK, which amplifies themes of identity, home and family in the context of social and political change to explore how individual freedoms are found within the confines of the home, and how the domestic serves as a trope for the artistic exploration of different, darker questions concerning identity.
At its heart will be a presentation of the work of Zofia Rydet (1911 – 1997), a photographer much admired in Poland who is now coming to wide international prominence. Her work has never been seen in the UK.
In 1978, at the unusually advanced age of 67, Zofia Rydet embarked on a monumental project that was to consume her until she died: she set out to make a portrait of every person in Poland. Over the course of twenty years, she photographed 20,000 people at home, the pace of the project only limited at the end by her increasing physical frailty. The work is known as the Sociological Record (1978 – 1997). She broke her Record into various subcategories such as TV Sets, Women on Doorsteps, Windows and Disappearing Professions — and systematically photographed the family in all its parts and possible permutations: men, women, children, married couples, teenagers, grandparents, babies, multiple generations simultaneously, the elderly and the infirm.