In September 2015, TEDxWroclaw Adventures invited me to host an interactive talk on photography and social consciousness in the city of Wroclaw, Poland. This was done as part of the intellectual celebration of the city becoming a European Capitol of Culture in 2016. During this event, audience members were invited to participate in their very own In Others’ Words photo shoot set to take place immediately after the talk.
With the utmost regard for Poland’s conservative climate and the varied comfort levels of involved participants, we encouraged those who volunteered to present themselves in any degree of nudity they saw fit. Volunteers were also encouraged to write in any language that felt most natural to them, seeing as they were each of varied international origin.
This shoot took place in a Wroclaw suburb that was originally built by the Germans to house Nazi officials during WWII. When viewed from above, the entire area appears to have been designed in the shape of the Reichsadler symbol of the Nazi party. The neighborhood is now mostly inhabited by local Polish families.
Insisting on absolute secrecy, our host hung blankets across the yard to decrease the risk of neighbors catching any conceivable glimpse of our nude participants. Without absolute privacy the shoot would not have been able to take place at all. During the process of being photographed, participants became increasingly more confident. If you look closely at the finished piece, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse this progression actively taking place.
To participate in the progressive cultural awakening of Poland and offer In Others’ Words as a vehicle to help dissolve decades of repression was both humbling and remarkable. Watching the growing confidence of each participant, their increasing willingness to trust each other and describe themselves openly, was to witness the spark of individual and freedom come alive.
This collaboration with TEDxWroclaw Adventures would not have been possible if not for the unwavering support of my family, friends & global community for whom I possess the utmost gratitude.
We're just getting started. Together we rise.