What is it like living in Poland for you? What do you like and dislike?
I’d love to quote Stasiuk here from „On the Road to Babadag” but I don’t remember the quote exactly. Basically what it said was that everything in this part of Europe looks like falling apart but somehow it doesn’t. More surprisingly, other things are levered over it. It gives you certain kind of universality, something like ‘everyland’ or „nowhere” if you prefer. Everything here is ‘human size’. I don’t know how much time it can take to make Polish province look like French. Probably eternity.
Why don’t you photograph humans so much?
An interesting question. How did you know?
Basically, it’s true: I don’t photograph humans if we talk about my last projects. But I did, in the past. However, I don’t make portraits. Those I conceived are always the result of some coincidence. For me people function in the frame as a graphic element of some composition. I don’t like focusing on them. Once they are in the frame, they attract main attention of a viewer and I’m mostly interested in showing everything else, some surroundings, countless details. That’s why people don’t get too much attention in my work. I use them as a piece of a puzzle.
What’s more, making a portrait for me equals having a lot of knowledge about the person photographed. Plus, of course, it forces you to be 150% sincere, to experience a whole lot of feelings in the process. And not everyone likes it. It’s not just taking a nice picture of somebody.
What has been the most amazing place you have ever been to? And why did it mean so much to you?
Hard to point at the best place I’ve ever been in my life. Just recently I came across a great spot – Odyssey hotel (Lodz, Poland). I had it at hand all my life and I discovered it just now. Impossible. It’s a complex of buildings, a huge wedding party spot, a small village of miracles. Gigantic Trojan horse, women-like-mermaids sculptures, stuffed animals: boars, deer, thousands of antlers, artificial bats, small real zoo in the garden. And it’s all mixed together, sometimes in one hall, sometimes divided into some categories of things that match one another, but don’t represent any ‘style’, epoch or anything like this together. They are arranged according to one man’s taste. When I went there I met the owner’s son and asked him where the idea of creating this place came from. He only replied: „You know, my father travelled a lot”. Imagine him growing up there…
One of the most wonderful gatherings of objects in one place!
Tell me about your new project: antique culture reception in modern Poland. What have you discovered so far?
I’m looking for traces of antique culture in our ‘households’. What people like, remember, cultivate. Maybe „why”. What it adds to their taste, if anything. The ideas how to proceed in this quest are countless. The only difficulty is to choose what’s best.
What I have discovered so far? The place I mentioned before. Real treasure. I also have many places I want to go but I will reveal them later.
It became obvious through this small quest of mine that the specialite de la maison of Poland are Trojan horses. Who would think! For instance, I discovered a hotel shaped like a pyramid. And a lot of antique reverberances of a similar kind.
Now I plan to go to a festival of story tellers to hunt for some Homer fans and maybe photograph them.
What made you take up photography?
I came across lomography in one of niche magazines and it devoured me.
But of course, if something has been in your life since always, you don’t know when it started. It’s like walking. I spent a lot of time during my childhood in a darkroom with my father. I developed my first film when I was 9. Probably thanks to that time I’m a big fan of analogue photography.
If you weren’t a photographer/artist what else can you imagine you would be?
When I was 13 I wanted to create a boys band. I had a whole crew ready, I had no idea who could be a frontman, bacause I was a bad singer but I was absolutely sure it’d be cool!
Interview by Amanda M. Jansson