ŚREDNIA WIEŚ – A POLISHED VILLAGE
“A photograph does not always proof anything. It can’t witness the invisible. The most important things may sometimes not be seen or they have disappeared.”
Jukka Male 02.02.2022.
Średnia Wieś looks like an ordinary Polish village. Even its name could be interpreted wrong – an average or ordinary village. The name comes from the triple village Terpiczów’s middlest village Terpiczów Średni. People here live like everywhere else. But was this village always Polish?
I watched Średnia Wieś for a long time blindly, not knowing the tough history of the area around it. I came here for the first time just because I wanted to a hilly area the furthest away seen from Finland. I looked for an inspiring environment and so I headed to the hillier regions and ended up in Northern Carpathia. Accidentally and luckily.
My photos of Średnia Wieś are taken during 36 years. The first visit was in 1979 and the last one in April 2015. During that period both Poland and Średnia Wieś have gone through major changes. The collapse of the Socialist regime and later the accession of Poland to the European Union.
Since my first visit the most visible change for the village has been that the three hundred cows and a hundred horses were washed out with the changes. But a bigger change happened in my mind. Because of the invisible.
A MIRROR TO THE PRESENCE – A HOLE IN THE PAST
There is a tough story behind the village. Besides all the latest political changes from socialism to capitalism there is a deeper complicated history between the Ukrainians and the Poles. That history has left many wounds in the village as well as in the whole region.
The interpretations of that history do vary between those two nations. Some say it has been like a civil war and others speak of an ethnic cleansing using modern terms. To solve the problems looks for me to be extremely dilemmatic.
As I earlier wrote I imagined once that I had come to a purely Polish village. To an idyllic and harmonic countryside. I also did but I couldn’t be at the same time more wrong.
I also thought Poland was one. I thought the Europe was one, even if it earlier was divided with the Iron Curtain in two.
Średnia Wieś, like the whole region around it, had been multicultural though. Besides Poles, there lived a roughly equal number of Ukrainians in the region, in addition to the Jews and other smaller minorities, like Lemkos and Boykos (Łemkowie and Bojkowie in Polish). That plurality was destroyed, by people imagining that good only comes out of destruction.