Wojciech Czaja’s Photography Book Encapsulates 100 Cities In Vienna
Viennese architecture journalist Wojciech Czaja seized the lockdown and found the whole world in his hometown Vienna.
In the middle of the corona lockdown, the Viennese architecture journalist and philopolist Wojciech Czaja sat astride his Vespa and began to explore his hometown with fresh eyes. Instead of traveling the world, he discovered the world in Vienna: Paris, Madrid, Beijing, Havana, Rio de Janeiro, the East Siberian Irkutsk, or, at the westernmost end of the city, the swampy Everglades. To date, he has posted nearly 500 images on Facebook, some of which can also be seen on his Instagram account @philopolist.
“In some places, it's very tricky not to see what you've always seen,” says Wojciech Czaja, who shot all the pictures with his iPhone. “And yes, you have to know: Every attempt to capture an image is automatically manipulative. It is often enough to remove a fragment from its spatial context, and you are already somewhere else completely.” The associations between Vienna and the world are sometimes funny, sometimes touching, and sometimes so surprising that you have to take a second or even a third look to make sure that you are not in Rome, nor in Denver, nor in Asunción.
In addition to the book, Wien Museum is now showing the exhibition “Almost. Vienna World Tours 1873/2020.” Czaja's Almost photos from the corona year 2020 are juxtaposed with a documentary photo series from the Vienna World’s Fair of 1873. The conclusion common to both, almost 150 years apart: travel is a privilege, sometimes due to the Covid security measures, sometimes because the cost – in terms of time or money – is prohibitive. Back then, the World’s Fair offered the opportunity to visit Persian, Arab, and Japanese pavilions and embark on a “world tour in miniature.” The dialogue between the two photo series offers us room to think, to consider questions of authenticity and similarity, of image-making and cliché, of memory and imagination.
Last but not least, “Almost” also makes you almost happy because it leaves room for laughter and dreams in the midst of the current crisis.