Could you introduce yourself?
Hi, I’m a Polish artist currently living in Belfast.
What’s your life philosophy? How do you try to apply that to your work?
Enjoy life while it lasts, take risks, and don’t let apathy, people and situations ground you down. I’m making pictures because I’m curious about the world around me. Instead of moaning about the issues that frustrate me, I’m trying to make pictures about it and through research, educate myself in a way. I think everyone needs some passion in life and art is mine. I live spontaneously and a lot of my photos are an effect of wandering around, finding things, and having encounters with strangers.
Could you tell us what you think makes you stand apart in the art industry?
I don’t like following trends and always try my best to be innovative. In the time of ultra crisp digital photography, my slide film images might be imperfect, but maybe that makes them seem more realistic. Film has the capacity to mirror the exact color from nature and that’s enough for me. I am not trying to improve or enhance it in post production. My photography is honest. I like the images to be evocative and tell the story on its own without an overly intellectual introduction.
Your "Farewell My Lovely" series is stunning and holds a very important message, could you walk us through the creation process?
It all started close to where I live. I noticed a massive mural with a bible quote linked to a possible Brexit saying “Leave the EU. Revelation chapter 18 verse 4”. I looked the verse up: "And I heard another voice from the heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye not be partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." Knowing that the prejudice against immigrants from the European Union was used as propaganda and then a “major” deciding factor in the Brexit referendum, it made me strangely uncomfortable and unhomely about the place where I live. This along with first hand stories I heard from other immigrants, and local news about incidents on sectarian ground only intensified the uncanny feelings. I started taking pictures and through the process of research and editing I started developing themes and patterns in relation to migration, territorialism and longing for home.
How does the theme of identity play a role in your latest works, what does identity mean to you?
Having identity is to belong and to be portrayed. It affects who we are and what we say. It’s partly self-developed and partly forced on us by a place or by people that surround us. It locates us socially.
The recent economic and political climate brings insecurity into our lives. It creates the urge to have a place where we feel safe and comfortable, a place we call home. This need for a settled place, free from incoherence, could be argued as a reason for the recent re-appearance of nationalism in the countries that once experienced ‘alien’ intrusion.
Home on the other hand is a place where you can truly be yourself and we tend to materialize our identity there in things and in our day-to-day rituals. For this reason, our identity can be traced there. The interior design, colors, and little details, like if the blinds are closed or not, can tell a lot about the personality and attitude towards the life of the person who lives there. I like looking for traces of people’s personalities in their homes.
How has Belfast influenced your body of work, do you feel that it's had an impact on what you create?
Belfast is a strange and quite harsh city, scalded with its recent past. The city doesn’t feel intact; it’s more like pockets of places. In some places that have been disregarded, the distinctions between communities are still tangible, highlighted by the claustrophobic defensive architecture. People from these places seem rooted to their location, they contrast themselves from where they feel they don’t belong, and immigrants for some, can be a threat to their local areas. Immigrants as well often tend to get a sense of themselves and the place where they live by differencing “now” and “at home” time. You hear descriptions of “us and them”, and now this feeling seems more intensified because of “Brexit” which creates suspicion and uncertainty. To me it all seems almost unreal. You cannot live in a bubble here as this city keeps you on your toes and the vibe it generates is intense. I try to resonate this quality through my images.
What do you want your audience to feel when they view your work? What are some themes you want them to question or think about long after they see the art?
Having any emotional connection would be great! I don’t want my images to feel sentimental. My intention was to make the audience feel a bit uneasy; in the same way as I felt and probably up to a certain degree it might be a shared experience of anyone who once felt somewhere out of place or had been displaced. Migration isn’t a new phenomenon, in fact it has been a part of human history from the earliest times, some people think it’s a part of human instinct as it is in many animals instinct and nowadays globalisation is spinning it all. Recently it seems that across the globe the capacity of empathy for those longing for the domestic comfort is starting to evaporate.
If you could collaborate with any creative individual, dead or alive, who would be and why?
Francis Bacon, for his ability to capture reality without illustrating it. William Eggleston, because like nobody else, he can make something magical out of the ordinary. Without always seeking new, exciting and exotic surroundings, he can totally sustain himself in nothingness. John Cassavetes, for his spontaneous approach, for being able to get to the bottom of the subject simply using emotions with the plot not being as important. Whether you love or hate his films, they stay with you for a long time.
Do you have any rituals you do before you start your creative process for a new project, to get your mind and energy in the right place?
I normally look at a lot of art, or watch good films that relate to the general topic that I have in mind, not photography exclusively. In the morning I go for a swim, this is the only place where I can focus where there are no distractions and I just concentrate on breathing. Then I go outside either walking or cycling with my camera and the images start to come simultaneously.
Tea or coffee?
I am a working mother, who refuses to go to bed before 2 am so anything with a bit of kick to get me through the day.
What’s a typical day for you?
My days aren’t typical at all as I hate routines but typically around 10 pm I have a heated discussion with my 7 year old daughter while trying to convince her to go to bed. I want to switch off at that point to watch a film and have glass of wine, while she is still going bonkers. I grew up in Poland in a city surrounded by lakes, forests and fields and I was always out wandering. Now, I’m trying to be as active outdoors as possible - no matter the weather.
What are some of your goals for 2017?
I want to continue working on ‘Farewell my lovely’ and hopefully turn it into a book. A group of friends and I are working on forming a collective, to be able to share and develop new ideas.
What makes you happy?
Good food. Drinking with my friends. Hanging out with my daughter.
Any closing comments?
Thanks to Goldenboypress for including my work on their amazing platform.