Born and raised in Upper Silesia, Michał Łuczak has spent most of his life in one of Poland’s densest mining regions. The nearly 100-year-old house where he and his family currently live is slowly being tilted as an effect of long-term exploitation of the coal beds. In some areas of the adjoining forest, the subsidence of the soil and the appearance of small ponds are other signs of restless movements of the ground. The area near the building is hit by earth tremors, measuring 2 and sometimes even 3.5 on the Richter scale.
Originating from the remains of ancient trees, clubmosses, and plants like horsetails or ferns, which all grew 300 million years ago, the black stone-like substance is still a widely used energy resource. As a fossil fuel, coal is excavated within an industry mainly thriving on human capital. Therefore Łuczak focuses not only on the geological process, but also on the physicality of the people working in the pits.
Mining has been discussed in many contexts, including political, social, ethnographic, and ecological ones. This creates a complex picture which defies simple categorisations. What if we remove the accretions, peel off the individual layers, and reveal what came first: plants dating back a million years, rocks, humans, or the risks of death?
Extraction (2017 – 2018) is currently displayed in Bunkier Sztuki, as a part of a Krakow Photomonth.
Tue–Sun 11 a.m.–7 p.m.
MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art – Re Gallery
ul. Lipowa 4, Kraków
Michał Łuczak (b. 1984) is a PhD student at the Institute of Creative Photography of the Silesian University in Opava, Czech Republic, and a graduate in Iberian studies from the University of Silesia. In his work he focuses on Silesia, Poland’s coal-mining heartland. He observes the smaller communities, using them as a metaphor for society as a whole. Łuczak has authored several photobooks (Brutal, self-published, Katowice 2012; Koło miejsca / Elementarz, with Krzysztof Siwczyk, Czytelnia Sztuki, Gliwice 2016; 11.41, with Filip Springer, self-published, 2016). His work has been recognised with a Magnum Expression Award and Mio Photo Award, as well as awarded Polish Photographic Publication of the Year. A member of Sputnik Photos since 2010, he also works as a curator and editor of photobooks