Exhibition / 1 Apr – 30 Apr 2019

Go Home, Polish

Michal Iwanowski

Go Home, Polish
© Michal Iwanowski
Go Home, Polish
© Michal Iwanowski
Go Home, Polish
© Michal Iwanowski
Go Home, Polish
© Michal Iwanowski

“In 2008, I came across a small graffiti in my neighbourhood in Cardiff, and it spelt ‘Go home Polish.’ I dwelt on it for a while, unsure whether I really should be going anywhere or whether I already was home. In 2016, with the Brexit referendum breaking Britain in half, and the rising wave of nationalism sweeping across Europe, the slogan took on an even darker tone, and I felt compelled to respond to it. Literally”.

In April 2018, Iwanowski set off on a 1900 km journey, on foot, between his two homes - Wales and Poland - a British passport in one hand, a Polish one in the other. He drew a straight line on the map, got a pair of good hiking shoes, and walked out of his Cardiff flat, facing east: Wales. England. France. Belgium. Holland. Germany. Czech Republic. Poland. His goal was to ask people about home, in a journey that would take 105 days to complete.

Although Iwanowski anticipated confrontation, polemics, and awkwardness, the antagonism never really came. On the contrary, people responded to the question in a deeply personal way: human to human, rather than citizen to foreigner. Most put their hand on their chest to show him where home was. Many wanted to tag along. Few mentioned their nationality. Only one chased him away.

As the journey progressed, the Go home Polish slogan became irrelevant. However, Iwanowski decided to keep it as a title, and a symbolic axis on which this project is set, a challenge to the language that dehumanises the other. To avoid generalisation and to look at the geopolitical agenda from the perspective of each individual.

And where is home? The answer is elusive and complex, a riddle that transcends time and administration.

This is hiraeth. This is heimet. Home.

About Artist

Portrait of Michal Iwanowski

Michal Iwanowski

Michal Iwanowski is a Cardiff based artist. He graduated with an MFA in Documentary Photography at the University of Wales, Newport, and has been teaching photography at Ffotogallery since 2011. His work combines elements of the documentary tradition with a conceptual approach. In his deeply personal projects, Iwanowski often sets his protagonists against nature and explores the relationship between landscape and memory; marking the silent passing of otherwise insignificant individuals and histories. In 2009, he won the Emerging Photographers award by Magenta Foundation, as well as being given a Honourable Mention at Px3 Prix De Photographie, Paris. Iwanowski received Arts Council of Wales grants for his projects Clear of People and Go Home, Polish. Both projects have received international attention and have been exhibited and published internationally. In 2018, TV Arte filmed and broadcast a short documentary feature about the Go Home, Polish project. Iwanowski’s first monograph ‘Clear of People,’ published by Brave Books in 2017, was nominated for the Deutsche Borse Photography Prize 2018.