More modernism – Trzonolinowiec, Wrocław

Another notable modernist building from our trip to Poland in August. Rather than the concrete of Berlin’s brutalist masterpieces or the nearby Plac Grunwaldski, Wrocław’s Trzonolinowiec has a construction that is unique in Europe and is known colloquially as Hangman or ‘the house on one leg’.

The building was designed by Jacek Burzynski and built between 1963-1967. The structure is a reinforced concrete stem carrying the vertical compressive load to the base of the building. On that stem are mounted the 11 floors/ceilings in the form of a square platform suspended originally on twelve steel ropes. The ropes are attached to the top of the shaft and anchored on the ground to stiffen the structure. The lowest floor is suspended above the ground.

It was built from the top downwards, with each floor being lifted into position. In 1974, the structure was reinforced with the ropes being encased in concrete and steel supports added to suspend the lower floor. Inside, each floor was dived using curtain walls to create 4 apartments.

There are some great pictures of the building in its early years, including some of it being built, on the Dolny-Slask (lower-Silesia) website here.293305


The comparison between the new building and the surrounding immaculate streets and its terrible current state are dramatic. The decorative concrete that for a garden around the base are crooked and cracked, filled only with weeds. Every surface is covered with graffiti and stained with the patina of zero maintenance.

As with the buildings in the previous posts, I took a few snaps using the Bronica before processing and scanning the film at home.

Hangman 4

Trzonolinowiec, Wrocław, Bronica SQ-A, Kodak 400Tx

Hangman 3

Trzonolinowiec, Wrocław, Bronica SQ-A, Kodak 400Tx

Hangman 1

Trzonolinowiec, Wrocław, Fuji x100

Hangman 7

Trzonolinowiec, Wrocław, Zorki 4, Lomography Colour 100 Double exposed with something, although I’m not sure what.

Hangman 6

Trzonolinowiec, Wrocław, Bronica SQ-A, Kodak 400Tx

Hangman 2

Trzonolinowiec, Wrocław, Fuji x100

Hangman 5

Trzonolinowiec, Wrocław, Bronica SQ-A, Kodak 400Tx


Max Kandhola – The Aura of Boxing, Part Two

Last Thursday, I took the afternoon off work and headed to Derby to see the final part of Max Kandhola’s Aura of Boxing show. You may remember from my previous post that the show is the realisation of Kandhola’s 17 year study into ‘the aesthetic and moral conflicts of the boxer within the spatial interior of the pugilistic landscape’.

The exhibition has been split across three venues:

Kandhola 1

The Chocolate Factory is an interesting space for such an exhibition. It’s an old industrial unit that seems to be without heating or any attempt to welcome its visitors, other than the cheery staff. It does allow the images to be shown at a scale that the artist wished and in an environment that is similar to those used by boxing gyms.

During my visit, the artist was leading a tour of the work, providing a valuable insight into his methods.
Kandhola 2

The images are again printed on canvas and glued directly to the walls, like the posters advertising fight nights that are featured occasionally – they look superb. Kandhola says that he presents his work without frames or glass to stop them becoming precious or ‘pieces of art’,  in turn, removing a barrier to the viewer.

The work, when presented at this scale and with the repetition of a contact sheet, becomes detailed and almost forensic.

Like the black and white images, only one boxer ever features in each frame. There are no fights, no ‘Mr Universe’ poses. Instead, it feels like a personal encounter with the individual athlete and gives us a taste of the dedication that the subjects show for their sport. We see the sport in its purest sense with all romanticism and gloss stripped away. As the title suggests, the work is about the aura, the feeling, the experience. Strangely, while he photographs around the subject, it takes us straight to the heart of it.

Kandhola 3

The contact sheets show us a little of Kandhola’s method and his discipline. He doesn’t take many pictures of each scene, photographing only what he ‘needs’ to to produce his vision and version of the scene. He isn’t distracted from that original idea.

Kandhola 4When speaking to Max Kandhola, that is the lesson that comes across most strongly, and one that I desperately need to learn. Discipline is essential in photography.

As Kandhola says:

whatever you’re shooting, shoot only that