How to Look Natural in Photos, curated by Beata Bartecka & Lukasz Rusznica
Essay by Tomasz Stempowski
“How to Look Natural in Photos” is a book about a totalitarian system which uses photography for its purposes.
Photographs taken with hidden cameras
Photographs taken under false pretences
It includes reflections on the mechanism and relationships connected with looking and photographing, observing and being observed, describing and being described. Violence begins in the nervous system, from an impulse that runs through the body and makes someone press the shutter.
Photography as a threat
It ends in an archive, the place where information and images are stored. This basis reveals who interprets the collected data, and consequently – who controls the facts. The book also tells a story of spies, agents, guards, AI algorithm programmers, surveillance subjects, suspects, archivists, convicts and accidentally photographed passers-by. They interact on various levels, all comprising one huge machine, inordinate
Photographs as evidence
All the photos in the book come from the archive of the Institute of National Remembrance – Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation (IPN), which investigates the history of Poland between the early 20th century and the fall of the totalitarian system. The book contains descriptions of photographs based on archival notes, and an essay written by Tomasz Stempowski, historian and archivist.