The Archive brings together visual traces of social activism, grassroots initiatives opposing not just political decisions but also breaches of democratic norms and human rights. It is a collection of images that constitute a warning against rising right wing populism and discrimination in the broadest sense of the term: xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny, and also the climate crisis. In establishing the Archive, its creators wish to prolong the life of their images, which are connected with specific events, and whose existence ends with their publication in the press. The APP gathers together photographs in a single, easily accessible collection, which will remain accessible to researchers, artists, and activists. Additionally, use of the Archive’s resources will be open to all users who express a desire to communicate the values with which its creators identify.
The creators of the Archive are motivated by a “duty to archive”1 and a need to study the visual aspects of protest, as urged by sociologist Rafał Drozdowski,2 amongst others. Remembering the events which have taken place on Poland’s streets since 2015 is important if we are to ensure ourselves a bright future. It is also an attempt at showing solidarity with those who, on a daily basis, struggle against breaches of the law, discrimination, and violence. In addition, we are not interested in merely “representing resistance” or “being shared online”.3 We wish to bring into being a place where a narrative can exist beyond the confines of the mainstream media, and we would also like to undertake and enable performative activities that will strengthen the self-agency of the images we have created.
1 Jacques Derrida, Gorączka Archiwum, Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, Warsaw 2016, p. 113.
2 Rafał Drozdowski, Jak i po co badać wizualność protestów społecznych?, Czas Kultury, 4/2017 (195), p. 22.
3 Hared Maimon and Shiraz Grinbaum (ed.), Activestills: Photography as Protest in Palestine/Israel, Pluto Press, London 2016, p. 189.
Documentary photography is not created in a vacuum, and photographers are not objective beings observing social events from the perspective of a laboratory experiment. The mission of the Archive is to record protest activities that have taken, and are taking, place post 2015, because we believe that they are vital in the attempt to portray today’s social and political situation. We are not a news agency or an objective press entity – mostly because narrative objectivity is a myth used in the current discussion mainly as a measure of adherence to a certain order. Photography is proof that phenomena have occurred, they are a witness to them or a description, but the choices behind photographs’ framing, timing and publication are subjective. Our work, and the further activities resulting from it, are the result of our commitment.