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Sackcloth and Ashes

Sackcloth and Ashes

by Witold Krassowski

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Sackcloth and Ashes is the result of a lifetime of work by Polish photographer Witold Krassowski. Although he has photographed major historic and political events which have helped shape societies across the world, he has always been drawn to photographing ordinary lives  - his best-known images are the ones he took during the transformation of his native Poland following the end of communism in 1989. The disparate locations and subjects of Krassowski’s work are unified by his choice to focus on the lives of common citizens rather than the elite or political entities.

Awards: Shortlisted PHotoESPAÑA 2021 Awards 2021, International category.

More about this book

This new book includes nearly 120 photographs, the earliest from the 1980s and many previously unpublished, depicting everyday lives from a diverse range of countries including Bulgaria, Tanzania, Peru, Russia, Afghanistan, Italy and Mongolia. His black and white photographs, all shot on film, show the universal markers of all our lives – the births, marriages and
deaths; the grafters – lumberjacks, miners, tailors and chimney sweeps; the grit - the homeless, sick and imprisoned; and the joy – the festivals, the discos
and catching of snowflakes on the tongue.

Published May 2020
205 x 290 mm, 208 pages
117 images printed Tritone with matt inks
Hardback clothbound
ISBN 978-1-910401-40-8

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  • Witold Krassowski was born in 1956 in Poland. He studied French literature and applied linguistics at the University of Warsaw but photography was always his primary interest. During this time Poland was in major transition: communism was crumbling and the Solidarność movement was created, and for several years Krassowski photographed these events. In 1988 he moved to London for six months and worked freelance for The Independent Magazine and joined the Network Photographers agency. He returned to live and work in Warsaw with frequent trips to the UK and worldwide in the following years. His work has been published in numerous European titles including Liberation, Globe, Photo Magazine, Das Magazin, Tages Anzeiger, Weltwoche, Merian, Tempo, Stern, Der Spiegel, Mother Jones, Granta, The European, The Observer, The Independent, Reportage, The New Yorker, Forbes, and Fortune, amongst others. Krassowski was awarded World Press Photo Awards in 1991 and 2003 and is the recipient of numerous Polish Press Photography Contests. In 2009 he became Assistant Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw before becoming Deputy Dean of Media Arts.

  • 'The projects, from which these images originate are covered in dust in few reference libraries. They are dead, and should remain so, as their interest hardly survives the circumstances that originated them. In this book, however, I hope to keep alive a little longer what unites them: my personal approach, a sense of deep unity beyond cultures. It is important to me that the impact of these political events can be understood from the point of view of the ordinary people in their ordinary lives. For many of my subjects, their stories would be long forgotten.'

    - Witold Krassowski