The palaces available for public viewing in Warsaw are worth the visit, not only for their historical interest but because they supply an intimate look into how the world once was/is.
The lavishly spectacular rooms are full of gilded luxury and watched by a tired army of not yet pensioners whose job it is to wait and watch patiently to make sure you don’t touch or remove anything. These people earn minimum wage, which to my surprise, I was told is under €2 per hour. It seems the more change is embraced, the more things remain the same.
I haven’t seen any grinding poverty in Poland, but I haven’t seen much of Poland either. And although the inequalities are not as much in evidence today (in Warsaw) as they must have been when the kings reigned, I am told this is not due to good governance but the exploitation of even less fortunate textile workers in even poorer countries.
Spending the last six years in Jakarta made me acutely aware of the ridiculous extremes leaders of the poorer nations will go to, to impress their peers. The Indonesian government has plans to build a monumentally expensive new parliament house, complete with the opulent luxuries expected by the political class, while teachers in outer islands are three and four months behind in salaries of less than $50 a month. Incoming politicians get $140,000 cars but roads outside the capitals decay and public infrastructure is ignored.
I would be surprised if it wasn’t the same in the days of the Polish kings, who still seemed to be revered, so what do I know.
I do know that every day thousands of poor people send cash to rich TV evangelist preachers, that the disadvantaged vote for tax laws, which benefit the wealthy who are contemptuous of the welfare state. And that the public fascination with celebrity is not a 20-21st century phenomenon, as we can see in the way history records royalty’s glorious deeds. Knowing these things means I don’t understand how we as a species managed to get this far.
But to the photo: The intent with this photo was to make an image that looked like an informal portrait. Then, taken out of context, the woman, for all intent and purposes, could be the very wealthy owner of this ostentatious house, which as a taxpayer is partly true. If we factor in the centuries of blood and pain that went into building the house, then she might just have a better claim to residence than the previous owners.
50mm, f/4, 1/80sec, ISO500