Gliwice, 22 June 1971
You want believe it but the inserts were not necessary after all. The clerk from Orbis who is in charge of that is young, terribly nervous, 10 people (at least) are always waiting, she’s shouting, etc. When I presented the plane tickets, she screamed at me that it was too late for booking a room. And she asked for the inserts. Until then I had been dealing with an older one, whom I have known for years, but unfortunately she was not there. The younger one didn’t want to accept my explanations, and besides the people in the queue where getting angry that we were talking for so long. We had a raw and finally she accepted the booking for 10 days in Sozopol, but she claimed that we wouldn’t get a room anyway, that she would have to phone them, etc., and that she doubted if it was possible for us to go at that date. On top of it she categorically demanded the inserts.
And the day before yesterday, when I brought her the inserts and asked when I would receive the answer and get our inserts back, for I have to withdraw money from the bank, the idiot told me that I had two arrive in person two days before the departure. When I said that it was impossible, she got angry and said that having to deal with people like me she was wasting time and so on and so forth. Fortunately my former, older clerk was present. And it turned out that as she had told me before, the data from my passports were enough and your passports were not necessary. I am writing so much about it because it made me terribly angry. My clerk calmed me down and said that everything would be ready on time. I am to drop by in two weeks. I suppose that the young one just didn’t want to fill in the booking and that was why she spoke to me like that.
I think I will take only 4000 złoty. I asked you if you can stay for a month instead of three weeks, if it turned out that we enjoyed it, but you didn’t write me back.
Given our constant cold and ugly weather, I am dreaming about the sun. Perhaps or rather definitely this is the best cure for our roots, our rheumatism. I think that I will arrive in Warsaw on Sunday evening on 18 July. On Monday it is still possible to get something done something in Warsaw. I would also like to be there on 10-11 July for this symposium connected with the “Cycles”, but I am not yet certain, especially that I have still not decided what to do with the rest of my leave.
But I think that taking photographs in Poland is quite another thing. I am thinking about 7-10 days perhaps in Istebna or Ujsoły near Żywiec. I was there once for a Sunday trip, it is a remnant of a different world, a former village, I went from cottage to cottage, I was looking for these so characteristic interiors and for people of old. When I photograph them I feel that my photographs have a meaning, perhaps greater than a “conceptual” work of art, which will probably not last long – and my document, although not a work of art, will capture what irrevocably passes.
My department gave me a wonderful book “The World of Henri Cartier Bresson” (378 zł). Despite all, this is the highest peak for me, although pure reportage. A wonderful section with portraits of famous people, so different from the classics, not rigid, technically good portraits, but people presented in their own community and in some very direct gesture. Besides, there are photos from all over the world, known and unknown, but somehow convincing. For contrast I once again looked through Man Ray, who is an idol of Czartoryska and Dłubak, and through Siskind, and Bresson seems superior to me after all. These photos gain in value with the passage of time. Try to see this book somewhere.
Just recently I had meetings with some “searching” artists1 in connection with an exhibition in Kraków (searching meaning subjective). Łagocki, Dłubak, etc. were again very active - confusion among older people, self-confidence among the young. Our Chapter was there and although in general we are very much against these things, everybody was ashamed to speak their mind, and when one person did speak, they made a fool of him. I am curious how will this symposium on the “Cycles” look like. Are you coming?
I hear that there are some skirmishes in the Warsaw ZPAF.
Write me again. I am curious how Ewa will do, Warmest kisses
1) A reference to exhibitions organised by Zbigniew Dłubak and Zbigniew Łagocki: Subjective Photography 1968 (Kraków, Warsaw), and Searching Photographers, January 1971 (Warsaw).