Mikołaj Długosz is a photographer and visual artist from Poland who works mainly with archives and found materials. His artist project “Leisure Time and Other Stories” includes photographs and video records from private collections and state archives of Poland: the National Digital Archives and Museum of Photography — presented to the broad public for the first time with the support of Polish Institute in Saint PetersburgThe project is part of the Polish Institute’s cultural program dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Poland regaining its independence.

The exhibition will present professional color photographs depicting Polish people at holiday camps, public swimming pools, in parks of culture and recreation of post-war Poland, found by Mikołaj Długosz in state archives, as well as amateur photographs that the author had received as gifts or purchased at flea markets. The artist pieces together fragments of the past like a jigsaw puzzle, reconstructing a complete picture of life in Poland after the Second World War. His attention is focused on the leisure time of common Polish people. What did they use to enjoy doing in their spare time? Where did they use to go after work? Where did they use to spend their holidays? Photographs from private archives convey people’s moods, providing an ideology-free glimpse into the lives of their friends and families. Official photographs, on the contrary, were directed by strict instructions, where and how to shoot. We are faced with two different worlds: a utopia of the Soviet era versus the life of real people, filled with events and emotions.

The project “Leisure Time and Other Stories” is a story that leaves many things untold, just like human history. Many photographs are impossible to attribute, although Mikołaj Długosz managed to determine some dates and locations and even made up stories behind some of the shots. Official photographs have a precise attribution. It was important for the author to show that history is not just clamorous facts and global-scale events, but also the life of common people, their habits and daily routines. In the spotlight of the exhibition stands an ordinary person with their own needs.