Why did you choose photography over other means of expression, and who or what was the most significant factor of you becoming a photographer?
Photography brings me the closest to people, and that is why I have chosen it. It is the most direct medium that allows me to establish the existence of imagination based in reality.
It started quite accidentally. In the beginning, I got a camera as a gift and started to hide in the old, abandoned factories in Lodz, taking pictures of things I found there. Then everything changed when I started to take pictures of people and traveled various places especially to do so. I found that being a photographer can be a continuous state and can become very close to life.
How did the White Elephants series first come about, and how would you characterize it?
The original idea of White Elephants was to explore the state of the becoming and the dissonance between feelings by looking on the world with a sense of disappearing and longing; that is the thing which, in my opinion, makes the images important to our culture, and life. Photography exists in the way that we know it mainly because we have to die.
Also, images are the rope that ties the fragmented past back together. I believe that memories are somewhat impossible to be imagine, but a picture can create a genuine physicality and real consciousness. On the other side, there are emotions and the unknown, and together, they change everything. It is not a simple tribute to the past, but rather a story about feelings out of time; the interior projected to the exterior.
For me, photography exists much longer before and after taking the picture. The image is just my method of communication. White Elephants is about the balance between inconsistent states and feelings.
On your website, one way you present White Elephants is in slideshow form with short video clips and music throughout. It leads me to believe that both sequencing and narrative are important to your work. Do you prefer your work to be looked at collectively as a whole, rather than as singular images?
I believe in harmony, and the important thing about it is that you can either see the whole idea in small pieces or the small pieces collectively making the whole. The slideshow gives me the opportunity to separate the chapters and concentrate more on the story. The photographs in the slideshow sequence are somehow like pages in a book, with order and relationships between images, and it allows me to define more of the narrative.
Do you view your photographs as documents of the people in them, or are they autobiographical?
Photography is always a document, but I’m trying to utilize it as a record of feelings and states transformed by emotions. I prefer to hide or reorder information than to reveal it. My photographs are based on reality, but they are not reality. In a certain sense, I’m talking about my own doubts through images of others I photograph, but that is happening on the level of the imaginary, able to touch reality, but not describing it in an autobiographical way.
Are all your photographs in this series made in Poland? How do you feel living in Lodz most influences your work?
They have been made in various places, only some of them are from Lodz. Most of them I made during travels to Eastern Europe and India.
The impression of seeing people as a stranger—both in meeting them by chance and without any knowledge of them as people—and also looking at them without any simple definition of them gives me the personal possibility to see what is most pure and important. I prefer to experience people on a human level without any preconception of them, to allow myself the possibility of living through the pictures, because the feeling of the experience is necessary for me to create the photographs.
There are usually very small moments when we can see things purely. Those moments are somewhere in us, a kind of archetype or a monument that we try to reach. Photography is never enough to reach it either, but it can bring you closer with imagination.
My photography is not really about the act of taking pictures, it’s about the road, the process, and about making something beautiful through this Sisyphean task like happiness, memories, and meetings. Time and emotions shape all of this rhythm.
What aspects of photography do you find the most challenging?
One problem is that we are constructed in such a way that we want to define the things that are happening around us, and to understand them. My photography is not a means to understanding or an attempt to give answers, – it always leaves doors open and some of the answers are outside of the frame. Naturally I want to know the answers and always I forget about this natural tendency, I’m able to take the pictures. Photography for me is about searching for rather than a means to say, “Congratulations, you have found the key.”
What meaning does being a photographer bring to your life?
It is hard to separate being a person and being a photographer; for me, those two things come together. Having gained perspective in time, I see that I have become more open and sensitive to people and the situations around me, but it can also be because of the other things that were happening parallel to photography. For certain, photography is my passion and sometimes an obsession. Sometimes it makes me very depressed, sometimes very happy.