At a market

It is an example of the most characteristic motifs present in Kipnis’ photographs taken for „Forwerts”.

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„A special offer in Warsaw. ’Where did you get such a wonderful portion of borsch, Zlata?’ shouts a Jewess on the street, running towards a friend who is carrying a bowl of fresh borsch bought for 6 gr at a market. Captured by M. Kipnis specially for ’Forwerts’”,

This time, we have in front of us a shot from a market in Warsaw. In the background, on the right, there is a frontage lining the space of the market square: a few-storey buildings with cast-iron balconies. On the left — wooden stalls, pars pro toto of the market, of which we will not see more — as there is a zoom on two women, the main characters of the photograph. One of them, standing sideways, is blurred. She is waving with the bouquet; she seems to be shouting, because her mouth is open and there is a grimace on her face. The other one, burly, wearing an ankle-length coat and carrying a bowl, is coming towards the photographer. She is looking at the camera.

It is an example of the most characteristic motifs present in Kipnis’ photographs taken for „Forwerts”: a city market. From the correspondence between Kipnis and editor in chief of „Forwerts”, Abe Cahan, we know that it was the request of the editors — to have among the portraits of the Jewish community also scenes from market places. In the archive of the magazine survived photos taken in Warsaw: of Wołówka near Stawki, Janasz’s market in Mirowski square and two of this place — called ’Jarszewski market’ in a description to a similar photo.

There are similar shots of other cities. Among the preserved photographs we can find variety of places, as well as commodities sold at the markets. They are mainly clothes, shoes, antiques, wicker baskets, live animals. It seems that at these markets people traded literally anything. What in particular draws attention are people selling freshly prepared hot snacks, for example, women with pots with cooked beans. Kipnis’ descriptions of the market scenes are usually short; they provide information only regarding the market’s name and what the people in the photographs are selling. We do not know their names, nicknames nor any personal information.

It is similar with these two women. They were captured in a moment when they were focused on what was happening around them. One of them looked into the camera, squinting because of the sunlight. There was, however, no time for posing — Kipnis captured her in motion, walking, carrying a coat under her arm, an object which she would have probably put aside if the photographer had wanted them to pose for the photo. Their mutual relation does not seem to be fully answering Kipnis’ description: the woman with the bouquet is neither looking at the other one, nor seems to be running or shouting in her direction.

Nonetheless, the description perfectly fits the atmosphere of the photo. Not only is it possible to feel the atmosphere of the market where everybody is looking for „a special offer”, but it also underlines particular motion captured on the film. The quote, however, renders the way of talking overheard at the market, even though the content of the dialogue might have been completely made up by Kipnis.

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