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“So, it is war”

or the phenomenon of historical reenactments

Can the participation in historical reenactments shape identity of contemporary Poles? The growing popularity of this pastime inspired Agnieszka Rayss, Ph.D., lecturer at SWPS University's School of Form, to create a photo exhibition depicting historical reenactment events. The exhibition was presented at the National Museum in Gdańsk from 2020 to 2021.

#historical reenactments #Polish identity #images of war #Institute of Design #School of Form

What and where?

  • The exhibition “A więc wojna” (So, it is war), presented at the National Museum in Gdańsk, analized the phenomenon of historical reenactment in a social and (geo)political contex.

Why?

  • The artist noticed that historical reenactments have evolved from being a marginal phenomenon to a popular model of cultural behavior, which was also associated with the government’s policy of historical memory. She sees the reenactors (deliberate or not) as creators of multiplied images and contributors to the process of shaping Polish identity and collective memory. She draws on popular images of war and models her photographs on the visual and esthetic tradition of the 19th century landscape and battle scene painting, documentary photography, and films.

Why is it important:

  • Because the way war images are framed has always been of political significance, as it reflects the views on war, and shapes collective ideas about war.

"(...) Just as a vision of heroic wars, created by images, may arise one’s doubts, the image itself poses a question – what do you see?"

Agnieszka Rayss
Agnieszka Rayss, Ph.D. / Assistant Professor, Institute of Design, SWPS University