Imprints: Berlin, Kyiv, Wrocław, Moscow

by Helena Kernan

Lea

Lea Jurek is a student of architecture from Wrocław, Poland, who studies at the Warsaw University of Technology. She is active in the Everyone's Backyard project in Przedmieście Oławskie, a notorious area of Wrocław nicknamed the 'Bermuda Triangle', which aims to renew the local urban environment in a socially-engaged way to benefit disadvantaged and vulnerable residents.

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    This picture was taken in the run-up to the election. Politicians’ posters were all over the city, interfering in every part of residents’ lives. In this photo, the poster is located by the entrance to the local market and looks like a cheap advert.

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    A lost human among colourful, screaming adverts.

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    Local markets are my favourite places for spontaneous human interactions. This is where neighbours meet and have a quick chat. Even strangers start talking to each other. While I was there taking photographs, one man asked me if I liked collecting mushrooms and we had a short conversation.

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    The unchanging Polish sentimentality about the past is confronted with today’s fast-changing reality.

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    Everyday isolation and solitude captured on public transport.

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    The restaurant I used to pass everyday. Here you can always hear the laughter of the ladies preparing food in the back.

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    Poland, is this the answer? An inscription and a heart drawn over a neo-Nazi symbol. The issue is a major problem in Polish society and there are many who seek to fight against this hatred.

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    Patriotism is still present in society today – it’s noticeable at every turn. Sometimes it emerges as a beautiful love for one’s country and its citizens, sometimes as a destructive act of nationalism.

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    A shop selling devotional objects but also souvenirs.

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    The beauty of a mother and her daughter.

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    Sitting as far away as possible from the other person.

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    Where is the trust? A camera attached to an old building so you can always keep an eye on the neighbours. Is this a reasonable reaction or does it represent a loss of something important?

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    A representation of two opposite attitudes. One person takes care of the shared space of the backyard and another destroys it.

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    Residents still feel nostalgic about the beginning of the Everybody’s Backyard project. They keep a photo documenting the event that initiated the whole project.

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    On one hand we share space, but on the other hand we cut ourselves off with gates, walls and bars.

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    A representation of the social inequality that is still evident in Poland and the gap between the middle class and poorer people.

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    Spending time with neighbours in the backyard. Dogs often provide a good excuse for strangers to make conversation.

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    The need to make a space your own in the face of adversity.

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    Vandalism or the need to express yourself?

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    A grassroots initiative which involved creating a small garden in the shared backyard and taking care of common spaces. These small gestures inspire me and make my role as an activist possible.

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    Wrocław’s football players with the Virgin Mary in the corner of the picture – a symbol of the values they share.

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    This photo shows the social background of the people with whom I work on the ‘Everybody’s Backyard’ project in Wrocław. We work based on fundamental values of belonging and community.

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    Signs of social interaction in the backyard indicate how people identify with the space.

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    The need to gather together and spend time in each other’s company no matter the circumstances makes me hopeful.

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    Our job as activists is to awaken in people deep-rooted values, such as solidarity and the ability to unite and fight for what they believe in, and then to help people act on these values.

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    This represents my social and artistic practice. I knock on each door multiple times in order to reach every person living in the building. I get to know them and ask them what they believe in and what they would like to change.

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    The feeling of belonging to a community helped us overcome the totalitarian system of Soviet communism and build a free society.

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