Some people see Praga in Warsaw as a place full of magic, a special atmosphere where old tenement houses, galleries and taverns come to life. A large majority of others find it an unsafe district where poverty, dilapidating buildings, and danger are at every turn. There are several foundations that try to change the situation for the residents. Most of the projects are aimed at children, since the older generation is not susceptible to changes any more, instead – it is mistrustful. One of these foundations is the Moma Film, which ran the New Urban Legends project, where children from the poorest Praga families participated in creativity workshops. First, in literary classes the children were asked to devise fictional stories about the places they lived. In turn these stories were turned into screenplays and filmed with the participation of children as actors, directors and cameramen. This way different stories were created, like this New Urban Legend – a Fireman who rescued a baby from a burning tenement house. I worked on the set as video assistant but I also took my old Hasselblad and took pictures.

Fascinated, I observed the joy with which the children were transforming into fairy tale characters, how extremely seriously they played their acting roles and how freely and eagerly they abandoned, if only for a moment, their personalities and impersonated someone strikingly different – more awesome, happier, reputable. Heroes emerged who had done something amazing and were adored by her/his family and the local community.

It is these findings that I represent here in my New Urban Legends Photographic Project. I strived to turn workshop documentation into an autonomous presentation.

© Urszula Tarasiewicz.

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Click on any picture below to look at the project. Full screen mode is recommended.

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