Travel

Photos Taken While Cold and Alone in Kraków, Poland

Last year, I went to Kraków, Poland to film a documentary about a festival using historic spaces for cutting-edge experimental music. I had recently gone through a breakup, and as a result, I found myself photographing sad-sack scenes.

by Zach Sokol
Jun 12 2016, 4:00am

All photos by the author

In October, 2015, I went to Krakow, Poland to host and produce a documentary for THUMP about how a non-profit music festival called Unsound was transforming a subterranean salt mine into a literally-underground techno party, as well as repurposing historic spaces across the city as cutting-edge performance venues. Unfortunately, at the time, I was also trying to get over a break up that sucker-punched me right in the soul, depleting the majority of my remaining confidence.

While I was in Poland, I took a lot of photos. I was drawn to the tension between the city's history and the hyper-modern festival. Krakow—with its preserved building facades, post-Soviet vibes, and excess of elderly people—felt antiquated to me. Unsound and its lineup of experimental and international artists, on the other hand, was anything but retro. Together, the film shoot sometimes felt like an attempt to record an anachronism.

To distract myself from the feeling that someone had inadvertently boofed my heart, I snapped photos of men by themselves, couples who looked happy, and sad-sack scenes on overcast days. I was attracted to moments of other people experiencing solitude, privacy, and intimacy, despite being surrounded by cameras and feeling pretty exposed and vulnerable because it was my first time hosting a documentary for VICE. I wanted to get lost in the past (a time when I was still in that relationship) or jump into the future. The present, with the production crew and fringe techno music, was sometimes too overwhelming.

When I look back at these photos years from now, I hope I can't identify what year I took them in. That's not to say they're timeless, but sometimes stuff like music, relationships, and foreign cities are easier to get lost or immersed in when they don't feel anchored to a date. Unsound may have added fresh energy to Krakow, but when you're heartbroken, you only see the things you want to see.

Scroll below to peep a selections of my photos from the trip.

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