prism #25.9: 'Autobahn der Freiheit' by Mateusz Skóra

Autobahn der Freiheit / Motorway of Freedom
by Mateusz Skóra
Images and Text: Mateusz Skóra

Motorway of Freedom is the official name of the road that connects Berlin and Warsaw. It consists of two parts: the longer one cuts through almost the entire Poland, while the shorter section runs across eastern Germany. Physically, the whole road is nearly 600 km of concrete construction.

The project of this motorway first began in Nazi Germany as part of a larger plan. The goal was to create a modern network of motorways to serve the modernization and militarization of Germany. The first section of the motorway was opened in 1937. In 1942 construction was halted due to the Second World War , but by then much of what was later named Motorway of Freedom had already been built. Construction was resumed in the 1970s by the Polish authorities, in sight of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. But again, only a few sections of the road were completed. What the 20th century totalitarian regimes were not able to achieve was finally accomplished by capitalist Poland with the aid of European Union funds. In June 2014, the route connecting Warsaw and Berlin received the official name of The Motorway of Freedom (in German: Autobahn der Freiheit, in Polish: Autostrada Wolności).

Today, the road is an important passage of international transportation, but it is also a temporary stage for many personal stories, in which I am especially interested. Along the Motorway of Freedom I’ve met wealthy people who definitely profited from the development of the road system, but I’ve also met many who didn’t benefit from it nearly as much: prostitutes or cheap labor workers on their way to Western countries, as well as the road service workers who sometimes earn 7zł (1,6 €) per hour. I find it ironic that this all happens on a road called ‘Motorway of Freedom’! I will quote an academic lecturer I have met on my way: “It is nothing more than a semantic perversion”.

Untitled set, from 'Autobahn der Freiheit' © Mateusz Skóra

Untitled, from 'Autobahn der Freiheit' © Mateusz Skóra

Untitled set, from 'Autobahn der Freiheit' © Mateusz Skóra

Untitled set, from 'Autobahn der Freiheit' © Mateusz Skóra

Untitledd, from 'Autobahn der Freiheit' © Mateusz Skóra
Untitledd, from 'Autobahn der Freiheit' © Mateusz Skóra

Mateusz Skóra studied photography at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan, as well history of art at Adam Mickiewicz University. He exhibited his works in Warsaw, Wroclaw, Poznan and Wigry. Participated in photography projects incubator Migawki in Warsaw, completed a residency program in Dom Pracy Twórczej [trans. House of Creative Work] in Wigry. His project Autobahn der Freiheit was exhibited during TIFF Festival 2016 // Rivers & Roads

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