The project is a result of an extensive photographic engagement with the two largest coal mining companies in the European Union located in Silesia, the most industrialised part of Poland.
Coal Story combines contemporary photography and archival research dating back to the 1960s, when Poland experienced significant economic and industrial expansion. In the early 1980s, coal mines were a major site of struggle and resistance against the communist regime. Workers’ protests resulted in the creation of Solidarity – a workers’ and citizens’ movement under the leadership of Lech Walesa. The coal miners actions eventually led to the collapse of communism and the end of the Cold War. Coal Story highlights the social and political capacity of the miners and evokes the history and aftermath of the legendary Solidarity movement. This exhibition poses important questions that are associated with Solidarity’s values; the movement’s legacy and its influence on contemporary Polish society.
Darek Fortas (b. 1986) is an image maker based in Dublin, Ireland. He graduated from Photography BA (Hons) at Dublin Institute of Technology with a First Class Honours Degree and a DIT Medal in 2011. His research interests include politics, aesthetics, distribution of power in the state and role of photographic image allied to Jacques Rancière’s notion of dissensus. Fortas’ photographs have been exhibited both nationally and internationally including What Matters Now? at the Aperture Foundation, New York, Belfast Photo Biennial, Photo Ireland Festival, Foto Foyle at Tower Museum, Derry City, RUA RED Winter Exhibition & his recent solo show Coal Story at The Copper House Gallery. He’ll be exhibiting in July 2012 as a part of Neu/Now Festival in Porto, Portugal. He is the winner of the Propeller Fine Art Award 2011 worth 15.000 Euro, provided by Fire & The Copper House Gallery. His recent project Coal Story has been nominated for The Foam Paul Huf Award 2012 & the Alliance Française 2nd Photography Award.