After more than 90 years, photographs by well-known Bedzin photographer, Bronislaw Arciszewski can be viewed at the City and Public Library in Bedzin, Germany.
The exhibition of Studio Arciszewski is entitled, “Bronislaw Arciszewski Photography- The Attestation of History of Soltau, Havelberg, and Holzminden Concentration Camps.” They are a documentation of the everyday lives in German concentration camps from World War I. The exhibition of 90 photographs and portraits, which were made between 1914 and 1917, is made possible by the private collection belonging to Arciszewski’s son.
Bronislaw Arciszewski was born in Bialystock, Poland in 1885. In 1910, he moved to Bedzin where he met Urszula Kaszynska, his future wife. Because she had been employed at The Altmann Brothers’ Photo Altier in Sosnowiec, it is possible that her knowledge of photography greatly influenced Arciszewski’s work. From 1910 until 1960 they ran their own photo studio on ul. Malachaski in Bedzin.
In 1914 Arciszewski was arrested for espionage, and sent to the German concentration camp in Soltau where he was ordered to organize a photo lab. This paved the way for the beginning of his documentations of the daily lives at Soltau, Havelberg, and Holzminden. Among photographs from German concentration camps, Arciszewski also documented the social and public lives of Bedzin inhabitants. When observing these pieces, we can see the meticulous composition of his models reflecting their individuality, and Arciszewski’s keen sense of aesthetic and geometry.
Although these photographs elicit an impression of orderliness and symmetry, they feature underlying tones of dynamicity and motion. This is all due to the minute details and gestures of each individual model. Arciszewski captured the distinct variations of people and social groups in a way that represented their inner dissonance. Every model was carefully staged in a context for which made the specific portrait more personal and suitable to their persona. In turn, this careful manipulation of environment and characters made for a rich, in-depth portrait of people who at first seem quite ordinary and expressionless, but with a closer look, are full of feeling and history.
Arciszewski’s photographs are more than just an attestation of time and circumstance. They are unique masterpieces of portrait photography capturing the social and psychological analysis of human beings.
The exhibition is open to the public from September 21 through October 10.