© Paul Szynol, undated, Dinner for one in a restaurant in Warsaw / Poland

Natale Solum is a series of photographs about Poland, where I was born and lived as a child, before leaving for New York City. I returned to Warsaw only some 20 years later. These photos are about the country I have been discovering since then. The title is taken from a verse by Ovid, and it translates, roughly, to “Native Soil”. The phrase is part of the following line:

“nescio qua natale solum dulcedine cunctos ducit, et immemores non sinit esse sui”, which means, with some poetic license, “I don’t know with what sweetness our native soil draws us to it, and will not let us forget.”

The topics I am highlighting pertain to the country’s cultural identity–World War II, communism, religion, Poland’s integration into the European Union, age, gender, class, education, and politics. I have also documented more prosaic subjects, like Poland’s harsh winters, and less tangible topics, like the melancholy that often hangs in the air in Poland, especially during the cold season.

A work in progress, this series of images forms the early chapters of what I hope will grow into a longer narrative. (Paul Szynol; see more pictures here)