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Society

Bruno Barbey’s Portrait of 1980s Poland

Spending 8 months and travelling over 40,000km Bruno Barbey documents the socio-political upheaval in Poland during 1980s

Bruno Barbey

Bruno Barbey | Poland A woman and priest photographed during confession, practiced according to orthodox rites. Czestochowa, Poland. 1979. © Bruno Barbey | Magnum Photos
Bruno Barbey | Poland A man holds a figure of an angel in the village of Paczim, near Nowy Sacz, known for its wood carvings. Silesia, Poland. 1981. © Bruno Barbey | Magnum Photos
Bruno Barbey | Poland Snow falls on pilgrims during the Holy Week in the village of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska. Silesia, Poland. 1981. © Bruno Barbey | Magnum Photos
Bruno Barbey | Poland A crowd cram together in a queue for bread. Bodzentyn, Poland. 1981. © Bruno Barbey | Magnum Photos
Bruno Barbey | Poland Chimney sweepers in the town of Gniezno. Silesia, Poland. 1981. © Bruno Barbey | Magnum Photos
Bruno Barbey | Poland A woman collects coal in the town of Chemno. Pomerania, Poland. 1981. © Bruno Barbey | Magnum Photos
Bruno Barbey | Poland In Zalipie, the 'painted village' houses are completely painted on the inside and outside by their owners. Zalipie, Poland. 1976. © Bruno Barbey | Magnum Photos
Bruno Barbey | Poland A gypsy family on the foothills of the Tatra mountains. Debno, Poland. 1981. © Bruno Barbey | Magnum Photos
Bruno Barbey | Poland A Cardinal rides to a village by horse-drawn carriage to attend a 'First Communion'. Jurgow, Poland. 1976. © Bruno Barbey | Magnum Photos
Bruno Barbey | Poland Newlyweds during the Virgin's feast in the town of Kalwaria Zebrzyd. Silesia. Poland. 1981. © Bruno Barbey | Magnum Photos
Bruno Barbey | Poland Huta Katowice steel works where iron and steel are combined. Silesia, Poland. 1981. © Bruno Barbey | Magnum Photos
Bruno Barbey | Poland Steel workers pause during their shift at the Huta Katowice steel plant. Silesia, Poland. 1981. © Bruno Barbey | Magnum Photos
Bruno Barbey | Poland Mass is held during the First National Delegate Congress of Solidarnosc Party. Gdansk, Pomerania, Poland. 1981. © Bruno Barbey | Magnum Photos
Bruno Barbey | Poland In the editorial office of the weekly newspaper Solidarnosc. Cracow, Poland. 1981. © Bruno Barbey | Magnum Photos
Bruno Barbey | Poland A museum commemorating the victims of Nazism. Auschwitz, Poland. 1981. © Bruno Barbey | Magnum Photos
Bruno Barbey | Poland Children on their way to church for their first communion in the town of Krosno. Silesia, Poland. 1981. © Bruno Barbey | Magnum Photos
Bruno Barbey | Poland Pilgrimage during the Holy Week in the town of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska. Silesia, Poland. 1981. © Bruno Barbey | Magnum Photos

"Poland was the page in history that was being written and it was the memory of an ancestral society on the verge of disappearing"

- Bruno Barbey

In the early 1980s, while Gdansk and Warsaw were in the midst of a sociopolitical upheaval of great impact on a European scale, Bruno Barbey took the occasion to embark on a journey of almost 40,000 kilometers over an eight-month period.

Accompanied by his family and living in a camper, he managed to detour the stern surveillance prevalent at the time. This was an approach that allowed him to discover a tormented people in battle and a country torn between Catholicism and Communism, where the word solidarity really means something. This book narrates a full saga—as it happens. It is the saga of Solidarnosc and the incredible power struggle between Lech Walesa and General Jaruzelski. Bruno Barbey insists, “Poland was the page in history that was being written and it was the memory of an ancestral society on the verge of disappearing.” His photographs bear witness.