Sołowiejczyk – Augustis. “The Beginning and the End of an Epoch”, 14.10 — 01.11

Bolesław Augustis. Białystok, 1935–1938.

What Józef Sołowiejczyk and Bolesław Augustis have in common is that they both photographed Białystok. And neither of them limited himself to work in a photo studio, although it was their main source of subsistence. There’s one more link between them: Sołowiejczyk was the first to photograph Białystok, and Augustis finished this chapter in the Białystok history in 1939. Thus, their creative work defined an epoch in the history of Białystok photography.

Józef (Jankel) Sołowiejczyk was a son of Jacob, who was also a photographer and in the middle of the 19th century had a photo studio in Niasviž, and later in Hrodna, where both of them worked for a while. The oldest of his pictures stored in museum collections is dated 1892. But the glory came to him after the creation of a monumental album called “Vidy goroda Bielastoka 1897 g.” (Views of the Town of Białystok, 1897), which the city authorities presented to Tsar Nicholas II during his visit to Białystok. It contains 29 pictures, and it is the first reportage about the city in the history of Białystok. In his album Sołowiejczyk shows the main streets, public places, factories and parks. His works are recognizable in composition. At the same time he is the only Białystok photographer who goes out of his studio into the urban space. However, his daily work was making portrait photos at the studio. These photos also show his diligence and careful selection of scenery. For his work, he received awards in Brussels in 1905, in Antwerp in 1907, in Rostov-on-Don in 1908 and the same year – in the Hague.

In 2004 in one of Białystok houses two guys accidentally found a bundle of old negatives. As it turned out, the author of the photos was Bolesław Augustis – an owner of a photo studio in the 1930s. This material is so interesting that it is exposed, among other places, in the Arsenal Gallery in Białystok, at the Archaeology of Photography Foundation in Warsaw, at the Month of Photography in Berlin and Łódź Photo Festival. This collection is an unusual finding not only because of its historical and sociological value. Augustis with his photographic sensitivity and astute observation of people goes beyond the principles of photo art accuracy, typical of most owners of photo studios. Due to the unusual and modern way of cropping and the ability to grasp the movement and show the context his photos do not look obsolete and are extremely interesting for a modern audience.

The unique character of Bolesław Augustis’s collection changed the perception of Polish inter-war photography. These several thousand shots of the Białystok photographer are one of the first examples of street photography in this part of Europe, being at the same time an outstanding and consistent collection.

Curators of the exhibition: Grzegorz Dąbrowski – photographer and journalist. Andrzej Lechovski – historian and museologist

Organizers of the exhibition: Stowarzyszenia Edukacji Kulturalnej WIDOK, Podlaskie Museum in Białystok, Polish Institute in Minsk and the National History Museum of Belarus

14.10 — 01.11
The National History Museum of Belarus
Marx Str, 12
11.00 – 19.00 (ticket office till 6:30 pm)
daily (closed every third Moday)
Standard ticket price ― 40 000, full-time students ― 32 000, school children and college students ― 20 000

14.10
Opening
The National History Museum of Belarus, 17:00