1. Past Work
The work is titled “(in the end) ghosts run out of memory”. It is a photograph, a self-portrait as a young boy. Black and white, dibond technique: digital print on aluminium board with plexi glass layer on top. 69x93 centimetre big, which makes the figure more or less natural size.
Made in the studio. Artificially lit. Photo taken by somebody else, I am posing. The photo is printed and framed in a photo lab. I decided to print in in dibond technique, which proves that the photo – colours and contrast – will not change for the next 100 years.
It is part of a larger project called “Phantom”, in which I aimed to become a female character from my family, from the past that I didn’t happen to get to know (she died before I was born). I wanted to become a host for multiple ghosts from the past. For me, this work is about an uncanny relationship with a member of my family I never got to know and about merging into one personality. It also touches upon the question of subjectivity and identity.
How does it relate to a previous work?
The idea appeared unexpectedly, it is not a continuation of any project of any kind. I have never worked with photography before, nor directed the camera lens into myself. Probably the aesthetics and poetics of the photograph are familiar and could be traced in my former works, yet they also allude to a shared, collective sense of nostalgia (given the black&white photograph) so I probably could feel familiar to every second person.
What scene produced it? In what context was it produced?
It was definitely influenced by Bownik, an artist and my tutor, that help me dig into the specificity of studio photography. He personally helped me to execute the photograph (build the lights setting). In terms of process that led to making this work, there was no research/no “trying out” phase. Of course this is part of sth bigger, so I was deeply into the theme for long time before I took the picture. But the idea itself just popped up in my head and I decided to follow my desire to take this picture. I am not interested in tracing all intricate dependencies. It just had to be done.
Can you place it in a broad context?
I can place this work in a context of self-portraiture, which has been a common genre for artists for centuries. I can also recall practices of artists such as Cindy Sherman that re-enacted other personas and played with the ambiguity between the staged and the real in photography and also the ambiguity between sexes, tenses etc. The picture alludes to the type of photography that people insert on the tombstone or carry in their wallet as a memoir, so somehow it plays to collective imagination.
2. Current Work
Sound piece or radio play. Work consists of my voice and music and will be app. 30 minutes. It will be a collage of stories, loosely linked to/deriving from harbour of Rotterdam. It will feature themes such as: water, history of fisheries, globalised trade, 4fold containers, contaminated waters, female fishes developing male sexual organs, port as a place of transience and many others. It is told from a very subjective perspective in “I” form, but also recalls many stories and accounts “stolen” from other people.
The mode of production: I often walk around with my phone and make recordings, then edit them, maybe write a little bit, re-record many times, try to use my voice as an instrument and then edit it for long time, playing with layers, echoing myself. Then, the music is composed by a person I collaborate with.
Pursuing my interest in harbour as a reservoir of stories or another terrain within which the memory is being negotiated. In general I work mainly with videos. And this sound piece will be also accompanied by multiple video projections. It is also a way of working out the relationship between image and sound. One possible way is to split them (out of sync). The labour of putting things together and making links between the images and sound will happen in the space where the work will be displayed. Hence there is a lot of freedom left for a viewer.
How are these works similar and how are they different?
Different: One is visual, the other is audial; the mediums are different, time-wise they are different. The viewer interacts differently, engages different senses.
Similar: I, as an author, am very present, either my voice or my physiognomy. Both works look back into the past, but from a contemporary and very subjective perspective. Both make us think about the subjectivity as one of the themes. Both are intimate. A common thing is also a sense of nostalgia. I am interested in nostalgia and I aim to call it reflective nostalgia. I want nostalgia to be a useful tool to explore different times and spaces and making connections between them; nostalgia can be described as “daily glue of common intelligibility.”
Who can help you?
Someone, who works on a crane in the harbour. Someone, who has got and can navigate a drone that I can use for filming, Someone, who works on a cargo ship. A fisherman that can take me on a boat trip. Someone, who can take me one a boat trip.
3. Future Work
What could it be?
It could be everything, could be a series of video collages about love, could be a guided tour on SS boat in Rotterdam, could be series of objects based on traditional Polish crafted Christmas tree decorations. I am not really interested in foretelling or making projects for the future. I do what feels right at the moment. I don’t think in „projects” terms. For the sake of this exercise, I’ll stick to the video collages. I have no ideas, I just have intuitions, instincts and desires. I film sometimes and put those materials together. Perhaps one day they can become a work.
This quote describes precisely the way I work right now:
“I have started to film all over the place, as soon as I sensed a shot. Without purpose really, but with the feeling that one day these images would make a film or an installation. I was letting myself go, by desire and by instinct. Without a script, without a conscious project.”
What makes it necessary?
I don’t know if it is necessary, I would say honest and interesting. It is a way of engaging with the world, trying to merge the inside and the outside. It is also exciting and it is an organic way of living my life.