Waiting for the snow

by Katarzyna and Marianne Wasowska

“Waiting for the Snow” is a photographic project presenting the curious phenomenon of Polish migration to the South American countries during the partitions (19th century) and the interwar period. We focus on the Brazilian and Argentinian directions of migration, as these countries were the most popular destinations of migrants, and the number of people of Polish origin living there is currently the highest on that continent (Brazil 1.53 million, Argentina 120-450 thousand). Both these countries were also at that time perceived by migrants as unknown and exotic. We want to shed some light on this little known (and rather untypical) aspect of European presence in that remote part of the world. The colonization pursued by Central European countries took the form of an advertising campaign. Its aim was to occupy large areas of land in order to draw not state, but individual benefits, pretending that this land was not inhabited by native populations. The increased migration to Brazil was also related to the lack of workforce that the country experienced after the abolition of slavery and the implementation of the government project of making Brazil “white”. In Argentina, the plan was mainly based on the idea that only European workers could build a modern dream society. This migration policy strongly influenced the way migrants defined themselves and created relationships with the new land, which is particularly important because most of them were farmers. The Polish descendants of those emigrants are now (after about 100-150 years) still actively cultivating the traditions and language of their ancestors. Using our own photos, archival documents and family albums, we want to create a multi-layered visual story. On the one hand, we gather stories based on the collective memory of the Polish community about the country of origin and the beginnings of settlement in the new homeland. On the other hand, we focus on the creolisation and mixing of cultures, and observe how the Slavic background has interlaced with the South American context, creating a concept of identity based on reconstruction, fiction and fantasy.