It is enough that I come from a country that lies east of the west and west of the east
I am an observer. Through digital and analogue photography, still and moving images, I explore the potential ground that exists between fine art and documentary photography. Drawing inspiration from various conditions of the reality around me, from the great interest in the modern, dynamic art scene but also from my personal experiences, I believe in the power of images to convey the emotions, truths and challenges of modern reality. Having spent the majority of my life away from my motherland, I often return to the theme of homesickness and belonging in my artwork.
My approach to picture making is to present ordinary, non-idealised, never staged reality. Such practice is the formulation of an interest in things as they are. By using only one lens which is the most similar to a human field of view, I am capturing the moments and non-moments that drag my attention. I am a sentimental and nostalgic artist and the camera is the best tool to anchor oneself to memories and emotions that are constantly fleeting.
My work starts with a strong interest in the moment, light or a situation. The process of looking begins before taking a photograph and continues afterwards. Selecting pictures, printing, making connections, framing or setting up an exhibition space, all of it seems connected to the way of seeing. I immerse myself in the medium fully and utterly.
MOMENTS I NEVER SHOWED YOU
For many years of being a natural picture maker and taking photographs of whatever caught my attention, I’ve noticed that people became a part of the landscape I create. Observing, sitting, relaxing. The images place the figure in surroundings that complement simultaneously two conditions – being and looking. This project focuses on my observations but also raises wider questions about photography as a medium and the act of observation itself. It is an attempt to look at my practice and question my selection of images in which unexpected connections and conversations can occur between images.
The body of work includes an animated scan of 35mm black and white negative. As some images remind me of either smell, sound or movement, I wanted to bring this photograph back to life by moving selected still elements.
This project has been shot in several countries, mostly outdoors and shows places I don’t belong to and people I have never got to meet, and as such, it is a departure from previous work that had nostalgia, homesickness and belongs at its heart. This project accepts personal and visual encounters that speak of a connection that is grounded in the photographic composition and as such is a pause in the flow of time: fleeting. These images propose questions and allow me to evoke the conditions that occurred during the moment of taking the picture again. (2018)
TWELVE DYING PALM TREES
The red snout beetles (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus) larvae can dig up holes in the heart of a palm tree up to a meter long, thereby weakening and eventually killing the palm. These weevils were likely brought to Greece in 2004, along with palms imported from North Africa in order to give the Olympic Games an exotic feel for athletes and tourists. Thanks to the hitchhiking beetle all of those trees that were planted are on their way out and the ones that were here before that are also suffering. The damage it has caused has worried not only producers and importers but also private businesses, mainly hoteliers who have planted lots of palms, like Maria, the owner of Mariliza where I photographed those palm trees. She said that treatment would cost her five hundred euro for each palm. She lost the shade that leaves were creating and she lost guests who were coming to her hotel as the lane of palm trees was making it so luxurious and what’s left doesn’t look as inviting. The red palm weevil is not easy to find. In some countries, people use sensitive microphones and earphones to track it down from the noise made by the caterpillar inside the tree trunk. Scientists are conducting research into ways of combating the insect by means of microorganisms that kill insects, nematodes, fungus and viruses as biological enemies. Such research is still in its infancy in Greece.
On 24th of April 2018, all palm trees I photographed in Kos were cut down. (2018)
BEHIND is my recent project on homesickness. I left Poland 6 years ago, and during my visits there I have been constantly portraying it since then. I wanted to capture everything that sits in my memory and the camera seemed like the best tool for it. The project includes work that recorded many different emotions, like longing for belonging, realising at the same time, that there is no return, that even if the home is still the same, it’s me who changed. The project includes 6 photographs and one video piece. All photographs are almost like still images from one’s memory – someone’s back, sofa pattern, moments… When finishing the series my homesickness transformed into nostalgia. Realising that I’m not longing for the place or people but for the time that passed, after 4 years of working on this subject I could leave it behind. (2017)
CELEBRATION is a project that came to live naturally or even surprisingly during my third-year of study at the Glasgow School of Art when I have been working a lot as an event photographer to support my art career.
As I have been busy with events, I had no time to make a project for a group exhibition. Instead, I thought I would search through my hard drive and commercial shots and try to find at least one good picture I could print for the show. When searching for that one photograph I’ve noticed something quite interesting. I was capturing the moments that were not really about celebrating the events themselves. The function room corners, where no one is dancing became almost like an empty theatre sets and the feeling that if I would just slightly move my camera I would capture a big group of people dancing or eating, was something that fascinates me about photography. The ability to present the situation within one frame, with no sound, with no description of what’s happening next to it. Just one frame, for the viewer’s imagination, to make a story of the moment. I’ve been noticing that while taking pictures of kids during the big events, like the photographs of a girl lying down next to the buffet – taken on her parent’s wedding renewal. But these photographs were not showing kids having fun or dancing, but escaping into their own fantasy, careless, doing whatever they want to do. (2017)
WHAT IF WE CAN SEE MORE is my investigation into the notion of absence of light and colour. The process that occurs when our vision adapts to the darkness was interesting for me when I was a child, especially when falling asleep and it still makes me curious every time I work in the darkroom.
The interaction between my works and the viewer – who is trying to decode the meaning of the pictures is something that fascinates me. When one needs time to see. When the eyes are adapting to the blackness when you start seeing more and more of the shapes on the photograph. When exhibiting project in Grace and Clark Fyfe Gallery in Glasgow, visitors who entered a bright white cube could only see black rectangles, but when they came closer, spend some time looking, they could see and experience familiar feeling to when lying in the bed in the night and looking around.
“The Case of the Colour-blind Painter” by Oliver Sacks had a big influence on my approach to the concept of darkness, colour and the vision. (2016)
TOMATO SOUP is a sensitive and nuanced work that explores the realm of the everyday. Despite more or less serious drama in the background – the rhythm of life is still present.
Being away from home provides me with a different yet very nostalgic way of seeing it. Tomato Soup captures my feeling of homesickness. (2016)
My grandparents are still unaware of the record button on my camera. (2017)
Natalia Poniatowska – Debby, moving image, 6minutes, loop, presented on TV framed in a wood frame, 950x550mm, 2018part of exhibition Moments I Never Showed You, The Glasgow School of Art Degree Show 2018In December 2014, the 21-year-old pygmy hippo cow “Debby” lost her partner, with whom she was associated for a long time and with whom she had three offspring between 2004 and 2008. Since she lives alone, she sometimes hops up and down the pane between the enclosures. The coexistence of pygmy hippos is basically rather unusual, as the jungle inhabitants live in nature as loners. The young bull “Tobie”, who came from Overloon on March 8th, was selected within the European Conservation Breeding Program as a new potential partner for Debby. However, he still has to grow up. He is likely to become sexually mature at the age of four. However, even the presence of a new conspecific in the neighborhood ensures that the two animals take note of each other and occasionally communicate with each other. This already results in an enrichment of their behavior. The maximum life expectancy of a pygmy hippo is between 35 and 50 years in captivity.
LONGING FOR BELONGING
Self-published, A5, 42 pages, Full colour/B&W digitally printed, Perfect bound, Softcover, Includes various inserts & postcard, Housed in plastic zip case, Hand numbered, Ed. of 10, 2016
A wondering, exploratory photo zine that includes various inserts including postcards, reproductions of tickets, and other ephemera. Housed in a cool, high school math class style plastic zip sleeve. (2015)