There is hardly anybody who has not seen photography of his authorship. Many people - consciously or unconsciously - sometimes pass by him, when, absorbed in their thought, walk along streets of beloved Cracow. Stanisław Markowski, one of the best Polish photographers, surprises us again. On 5 July 2013, In the residence Dworek Białoprądnicki in Cracow there was an inspiring opening of his photography exhibition entitled: 'Tango- sadness which is danced'.
On the classical walls of the residence Dworek Białoprądnicki in Cracow there are photos. There are not many of them, but enough to create a tension which is felt from the entrance by visitors. Concentration and nostalgia in the eyes of couples absorbed in a dance, twilight in cafes of Buenos Aires and nostalgia for a kind of unexpressed complement of humanity - this is the essence of the photos.

Expressing nostalgia

Stanisław Markowski fell in love in tango, while being at a festival in Lisbon. Observing people sunk in the dance for whole night, he decided to immortalize them through photography. The old bandoneon (a musical instrument which arrived from Argentina with German emigrants, often mistaken as an accordion), bought in one of Cracow second-hand shops, became an inspiration for him to prepare the exhibition. - When I started to be interested in tango, I discovered that it had brought a turning-point in my various life perplexities. Somebody who has tried this dance, will look at the world in a different way. Tango helps us in finding physical and psychic harmony. In the contemporary world of lonely people, when we cannot go towards another man, when tango is danced, it is easier to live in harmony with others. When you dance, you feel a pendulum in yourself, you cannot stop swaying, you carry this rhythm in yourself. You dance tango, even while not dancing - these reflections were being made by the artist during the opening of the exhibition. When I listen to tango, I feel as if I moved into a different epoch. We live in uninteresting times, so catching such a moment into a camera lens is a real fun! - says Stanisław Markowski. - However, what is the most important is what is not in the photos - music. It is the first step of getting into tango. It opens the deepest spaces in the man, awakens a desire of expression in him, but it also bring melancholy. We want to share this melancholy, nostalgia with somebody. Another person is coming - a man or a woman and we make a dialogue about nostalgia in the dance. We feel that we think in a similar way. This is the music which raises a specific - positive, friendly, good anxiety. We want a bright world very much. We miss the good and tango expresses it...


Tango is not a team dance, but an intimate dance. It appeared in the XX century in the port suburbs of Buenos Aires. Initially it was danced by men only, who felt nostalgia for passionate love. Tango developed in pubs and brothels. This origin of tango even was the reason for a situation when pope Pius X prohibited believers to dance it. However, being carried in dancers' hearts searching for love and the good, tango was slowly becoming the favourite dance of various social groups till it finally reached to salons. - But non-professional salons, which do not exist today - says the photographer. Today, as we know, even pope Francis does not conceal his love to tango, especially to milonga. Milonga is a more dynamic than tango, it is a kind of pre-tango. Milonga is also a name of a place - time, where tango, milonga and tango-waltzes are danced.
In Buenos Aires there are many premises, to which lover of tango come in the evenings, in order to dance nearly till the morning. These are young and elderly people. Photographs of Stanisław Markowski show their faces - beautiful and young, their glittering eyes, in which lights of subdued lamps reflect. These are also somehow elderly people at the end of their life, but also beautiful, with the same glance and nostalgia in their eyes.
Tango has its personalities. Elderly people convey this teaching from generation to generation. Today we have a few hundred old melodies of tango. Moreover, new interpretations of sound appear. - A real tango, although mostly in mole tones, has warm sounds, there is no sign of evil in it - says Stanisław Markowski. - But in order to find peace and joy in tango, it is necessary to diminish one's ambition, listening to one's heart with simplicity.

Deeply human histories

The photos of Stanisław Markowski conceal deeply human histories. Gabriel Clausi - -already deceased genius composer from Argentina, a widower living with 12 cats in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, and who played extraordinary melodies on his old creaking bandoneon.
Another photo presents - a man looking at dancers. He has been a guest of café for 10 years, since the death of his wife. He does not dance any more. He has been observing for a few hours, while sipping cold beer - served like champagne which he cannot afford any longer. It is a rite.
Another photo presents work of two women: a widow of one of the best restorers of bandeons and her daughter. After death of husband and father they took over the factory. They had to learn the difficult skill of repairing instruments. They work fully concentrated.
Café Tortoni - the most famous café to which artists used to come like - Borges, Gardel, Piazzolla. Today there are their wax figures, as if times stopped….

Facing passions

Tango, in which partners, entangled in an embrace, raise so many emotions, can make us ask whether this passion can go together with the chastity of the heart.
- I think so - says Stanisław Markowski. - Chastity of the heart is a matter touching each part of our life. It never happens that we have fully chaste heart. We are aiming at this chastity all the time. It is a process in which our will plays a great role…
- All things, which God gives to the man, so, also emotions and passions, are phenomena and challenges which we, as people, have to face - notes the artist. - I find the passion included in tango as a kind of esthetical experience. And, there is a world of divine transcendence in it which is expressed in the words of Saint Augustine: 'Our heart is anxious till it finds peace in you'. This kind of nostalgia is inscribed in our nature, that is, deeply human.
- The dance has expressed emotions since the ancient times - emphasizes Stanisław Markowski. It is also seen in psalms. Certainly, tango is not danced in the church, but this year meeting in Lednica showed that tango can be danced by everybody, for nostalgia for the good, the beauty, for the presence of God was expressed. Tango helps us realize the value of experiencing the beauty. This experiencing beauty is often connected with suffering, emotions, and even causes tears.

Experiencing humanity

- Tango helps us realize our sensual emotions - the artist analyses. - They are the same what we bear in ourselves, what our experiences are like. In this dance we even experience our humanity. Tango triggers femininity in a woman, whereas it exposes man's typically masculine features: responsibility, skill of leading, self-confidence.
- Certainly, not everybody is going to like this dance - notes Stanisław Markowski. - Some people will remain only its listeners. It often results from fear about another man, about opening up oneself. But tango does not touch only the sphere of senses - it is only a semblance. This dance reaches much deeper. It opens the man for another man, dancers experience strong emotions, but the dance finishes and everybody goes their own way, as if feeling a relief, that they expressed their feeling in the dance. Anyway, most milongas are finished with the common dance of all pairs - chacarera. There is something more in it - an ethnic depth of tango, which is expressed by rhythms and a delicate pulse of traditional Andean dances, dances from Argentina, Chile. Tango has many colours. It is worth trying…. - the photographer encourages.


"Niedziela" 29/2013

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: