Michał Szlaga is a documentary photographer connected to Gdańsk. He graduated in photography and intermedia studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk, where he presently lectures. He was a winner at the first International Photo Awards in New York in 2007. He has also won at Grand Press Photo on several occasions, including the Grand Prix in 2004, and in 2005, an honorary mention. His Shipyard project, documenting the last years of the Gdańsk Shipyard, was purchased in its entirety for the collections of the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2016. He has published in Poland’s leading press titles. Since 2008, he has been working on the Poland—Reality project, a personal diary which presently holds over 1,500 photographs and is growing all the time. He has made projects with such foundations as A Ku Ku Sztuka, Bęc Zmiana, Open Art Project, Wyspa Progress, the European Solidarity Center, ESK Gdańsk 2016, the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk, and Szekspirowski Theater. Szlaga’s art has been documented by foreign television: ARD, NDR and ZDF (Germany), ARTE (France), AJ1 (England), Euronews, and domestically, TVP 1 and TVP Kultura.
A Ship in Construction, photograph, 2002, edition 5
This photograph comes from the famous Shipyard documentary series, which the artist began taking in 2000. In 2002–7 he lived in the grounds, with even a stint as a worker. The photographer became a witness, participant, and critic of the events there. He documented the transforming landscape in which a great social drama played out. Szlaga probed the history of the Gdańsk shipyard in conversations with people who remembered its operations from the birth and flourishing of Solidarity. The result is touching, a monument of sorts to this place. For Szlaga, the shipyard is a constantly evolving postindustrial architectural landscape, filled with people and traces of history. His collaboration with the local Sztuka Wyspy Institute helped the photographer present his work at important contemporary art exhibitions.