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Saving from oblivion photographs of the Polish-Slovak Tatra Foothills and Tatra Mountains

“Whatever happened happened
Whatever may happen is happening now
Whatever will be will be
But it’s always good there are places
To which we return in our memories.”

“Let’s respect our memories, let’s relish them, let’s learn to appreciate them”, the Skaldowie band used to sing. At home, we recall various events in our lives, most often reaching for photos/pictures. And, let’s be clear, the older ones, developed, carefully arranged in albums are viewed more often than the ones that fill our computer folders with the progress of digital technology. It took more effort to take them – from the very moment of cropping the pictures to developing and placing them in the album. But when we open such albums, we travel in time – image after image evoke memories and subsequent associations. Someone once said that photography helps stop time. But it also helps travel in time. An invitation to such time travel are the results of the project "Saving from oblivion photographs of the Polish-Slovak Tatra Foothills and Tatra Mountains”. A digital archive of more than a thousand photographs from the period from mid-19th century to 1945 has been created. Previously hidden in archival drawers and private collections, they have seen the light of day – they have been recorded and an Internet Polish-Slovak digital archive www.album.nowytarg.pl has been created. It is an ideal proposal for long winter evenings. Why for long evenings? Because it is engaging. Thanks to these photographs we are able to see what Nowy Targ and Kežmarok used to look like, find places we know, compare how much has changed and subjectively assess whether for better or for worse.

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It is a fascinating insight into how everyday life used to look, but also a reflection that our world looks completely different – this is the former operating theatre of the hospital in Nowy Targ.

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Although, clearly, there are things that have not changed a lot.

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In the album there are separate sections with photographs related to the economy, education, events and celebrations. The portraits section is unusual. It satisfies our natural curiosity of other people. How they used to look, how they dressed, what was dictated by fashion. For photography lovers, the portrait section is also a mine of information about how photography (including wedding photography) used to look.

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And for those who want to explore the history of photography on the borderland – "Lexicon of Polish and Slovak Tatra photographers and photographic plants in the Tatra Mountains" has been published under the project. It is the first Polish-Slovak attempt to face the history of Tatra photography. The lexicon contains information on about 800 Polish and Slovak Tatra photographers (including professionals, amateurs and tourists) who photographed the Tatra Mountains and their surroundings: Spiš, Orava, Podhale and Liptov from the beginning of photography to the start of World War II.


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Blog prepared in the project entitled: "Cooperation that enhances and develops as a key to a positive image of Poland on the international arena", co-financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland as part of the competition "Public Diplomacy 2020 - a new dimension".

Project co-financed by the European Union from the European Regional Development
Fund under the Republic of Poland - Slovak Republic Cross-border Co-operation Operational
Programme 2007-2013 and from the funds of the Malopolskie Voivodship