The rendezvous for Aaron Schuman’s meeting with Karol Hordziej, director of Krakow’s Photomonth, was to be at the city’s Ethnographic Museum, a venue chosen for convenience to discuss plans for the 2014 festival Schuman had been invited to curate.

Neither man could have guessed the significance of the choice. Schuman, arriving early, went to explore the museum’s permanent collection – the decorative and religious objects, costumes, hunting and farming tools, talismans and ephemera, documenting for a century the socio-cultural heritage of Southern Poland – and he found himself struck by an atavistic sense, at once “vaguely familiar yet exotically strange”, that these objects triggered in him. “I was super excited when Karol arrived, and he saw the permanent collection, for the first time since his childhood, through my eyes.” Schuman is of Polish ancestry – his great grandfather coming from the small village of Cierpisz east of Krakow; but for

This article appeared in 189 on September 2014. Buy here

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