A guide to the New East
New East 100

29/100

Lola Paprocka

The Polish photographer getting to the heart of brutalist Belgrade

Lola Paprocka arrived in London from Poland in her teens. Since taking up photography, and single-handedly founding Palm* Studios to support other lens-based artists, she’s found yet another home in Belgrade.

She travelled to the Serbian capital in 2015. One of her first projects, as well as one of Palm’s first publications, titled Blokovi, was dedicated to New Belgrade.

The neighbourhood was built after the Second World War and meant as a new capital and unified centre of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, to stand across the river from historic Belgrade.

The legacy of this move for the surrounding area is a large grid made up of 72 concrete apartment blocks, or blokovi.

These brutalist edifices, among which is the the Western City Gate, a skyscraper formed of two towers connected by a bridge, are now recognisable landmarks.

Paprocka was drawn to the community of the neighbourhood, which reminded her of her native Poland.

She photographed residents, without focusing on any particular group of people.

In the spaces between the apartment blocks she captures the coming together of socialism and capitalism, of generations old and young, of cold brutalism and August heat.

The project was a collaboration between Paprocka and her friend and curator Mima Bulj, who was born in block 29 of New Belgrade. With Paprocka based in London and Bulj living in Melbourne, this series had brought them together back in the East.

Blokovi received the Unveil’d Photobook award in 2016. Paprocka’s latest book, about a former stunt riding cowboy in the US, produced in collaboration with photographer Pani Paul, is out now.

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