Amadeusz Świerk

Photographer's portfolio

  • Elena and Thibeault, international travellers, having a traditional washtub bath. Many people come to The Shack to feel unconstrained and free, which sometimes means open nudity.

  • The Shack is located among the woods of Karkonosze mountains, far away from tourist trails. The secret location is a part of the charm of the place, and a way to select newcomers.

  • Being together in The Shack means mostly being offline and having fun.

  • The Shack has no electricity, no gas and no running water. In the winter it looks like a place from a postcard.

  • Despite being rather small, The Shack can guest many dwellers, but they have to accept the closeness. The usual turnout is couple of dozen every weekend.

  • Nina carrying a log foraged from the depths of the wood. Every visitor tries to bring something up to The Shack, and there’s no lack of hands helping with harder tasks.

  • Horizontal Christmas Tree.

  • The Shack Dwellers making more than 1000 Polish pierogi (dumplings) for a Dumpling Party. The meal will start when everyone is ready, and not sooner. If someone breaks the rule and starts eating earlier, they have to do all the dishes.

  • The Shack dweller friends: Juliusz, Sergiusz and two Julies. Everybody is welcome, regardless of their life stories, and The Shack’s unwritten code demands tolerance and respect.

  • The Shack is full of weird or funny trinkets brought by the dwellers. Whatever came to The Shack, it was brought from down below inside people's backpacks.

  • People visit The Shack as a trekking detour, to stay among nature and have fun, forgetting social norms. There aren’t many visitors, but their numbers rose sharply during the pandemic.

  • Women visiting The Shack occasionally drop both pretences and articles of clothing. Freedom and sensuality are an important part of the atmosphere. Many pairs start in The Shack, and even more break up there.

  • Shackkeeper Adam – "Blady" – prepares a washtub. Even simple hygiene requires lots of effort, like bringing water from the well and heating it up.

  • Beautiful surroundings of The Shack also attract people seeking nature and simplicity. Up close there are nice rocks with a scenic view of the mountains.

  • Early morning in Karkonosze. Autumn mists rise up from Jelenia Góra dale.

  • Shackkeeper Mariusz – "Siwy” – teaches his dogs how to stay silent. The shack is animal-friendly, and almost every keeper lives with his own pets.

  • Lazy preparations to first bonfire of the early spring.

  • Nikola and Maciek playing chess on New Year's Day. Not all Shack’s parties are crazy or wild.

  • The atmosphere of The Shack – being far away from electricity, away from smartphone reception and everyday life – spark the closeness between the dwellers.

  • Considering the atmosphere and closeness of the dwellers, many events naturally drift towards nudity.

  • The Nature rules the woods around The Shack. Being there is being at her mercy, and is a unique opportunity to observe her up close.

  • Another couple openly taking a bath in a washtub, by the candlelight and in front of spectators. In The Shack’s world, people trust each other, showing what they usually hide from others.

  • A new tattoo of a female Shack dweller.

  • A party of older generation of The Shack dwellers. They visit the Shack a bit less often today. In the past, The Shack was an asylum away from political reality of the Communist era. Despite both the times and the political system changed, The Shack still can be as such.

  • Majka prepares dinner on a traditional stove. Cooking is a common ritual bringing the dwellers together.

  • Guys having fun.

  • Many Shack dwellers identify as its proud citizens and make close friends there.

  • Getting outside for a snow bath can be a break during a party.

  • The Shack is a place where some come to fullfill their hidden needs and wishes. No rules nor norms interfere, so they can act freely without the fear of prejudice.


The Shack

Hidden among the scenic Karkonosze mountains in southwestern Poland, deep in the woods and well away from the popular tourist trails, The Shack – as its dwellers tend to call it – is a secret meeting place for a special bunch of people. Despite the lack of electricity and internet, every weekend, regardless of the season, The Shack is brimming with trekkers from various walks of life, who typically don’t have the opportunity to meet or interact. They seek shelter from social conventions and develop their own, unique and intimate, small-scale society and culture.

The Shack is a place with rich traditions. Located off the beaten Karkonosze tourist trails, since the 1970s it has been popular with various groups of non-conformists. Hippies flocked there to escape the oppression of the Communist authorities. During the political transformations of the 80s, some of them joined Fighting Solidarity (Polish anti-Soviet and anti-communist underground organization), and The Shack became a print-and-distribution center of subversive leaflets.

Throughout the years, both political and non-political visitors created a rich set of rules, The Shack’s unwritten code that acts as a tool for introducing newcomers and keeping a low profile. Breaking the code is punished by a system of humorous tasks. Over time, regulars started families and made professional careers, but they handed over The Shack’s traditions to the younger generation of visitors.

There is a position of Shack Keeper, who stays there permanently. He lives alone in the wild, taking care of the building and getting along with its guests. He’s the unofficial leader within The Shack. The Keeper usually changes every few years. The Shack somewhat changes too, as Keeper’s personality influences the atmosphere.Today most Shack visitors come on weekends to escape civilization and relax for a bit. The flock of guests increased significantly during the pandemic; people tried to compensate for the scarcity of face-to-face contacts. The sense of belonging is built by working and eating together, among strangers. Guests forage wood from the forest and chop it, prepare meals on the wood-fired stove, share them with others by candlelight, play guitar, sing and dance – all without modern disturbances of internet and smartphones. The Shack dwellers want to experience the traditional way of life and stay among nature. Most appear occasionally, but there are always some who visit it regularly and enjoy it together.

© 2024 Amadeusz Świerk