Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Q & A with Aleksandra Wojcik

The Rebel: Can you talk about where you grew up in Poland? What are the best things about your home town?
Aleksandra Wojcik: “I grew up in Cracow (south Poland). For the first 10 years of my life I lived in Nowa Huta surrounded by Soviet architecture. Later my family and I moved to central Cracow- untouched by the war. I love my home and I miss it so much. Cracow is a very bohemian place, there is always something going on. I used to live next to the Jewish district. Place full of cafés, cultural centres, antique shops. I experienced different cultures. My parents as art conservators introduced to me the world of history and art. I love Cracow and everything about it. It is hard to describe the spirit of that place in just few words . It is a\really magical and different place. Time goes slower and I love the surreal spirit of Cracow during the night.”
The Rebel: How much does it cost to do the photography course you do here and has it been worth the money so far?
Aleksandra: “I am lucky, I’d started my course two years ago and I pay £3,200 a year. For sure you need more than that to survive in London and photography is very expensive. I choose the right place to study. I am really happy with my university and it's program. The course itself is editorial but students can work on fine art projects and teachers help us to develop our ideas. Is it worthy of this money? I am sure it is. At my campus we have very good facilities both in the traditional and digital darkroom. I know how expensive scanners, cameras, films, photographic paper are. Universities need money to provide this stuff for students. I don't mind paying the fee when I see that this money is being invested well.”
The Rebel: Are Londoners how you expected them to be? Has you experience of life here been mostly positive? Do you get fed up with the weather? Have you experienced any misogyny or racism since moving here?
Aleksandra: “I came to London to find out what I want from life. I was 23 and lost. Dreams which I dreamed in Cracow didn't come true. I was disappointed with the reality and with myself.I wanted to be independent so I had to leave Poland. Friend of my brother had a spare bed in her room in London so I asked her to keep it for me. In one week I packed my suitcase, bought a ticket and moved to London. First 2 years were really hard, I blamed the city but now I think it was more complicated. I was looking for my identity and I couldn't identify with Londoners and the Polish community either. Language barrier was a problem and I felt sad that I couldn't express myself, I felt lonely but today I think it was my choice. I worked a lot and didn't have a free time. That period of my life was a big lesson, but it made me stronger and less naïve. After 2 years I realised that life is not about earning money - Well, mine isn’t. I can't compare London to Cracow. Life in here is quicker and there is no time to make proper friendships. People live their lives and are less aware of others. It is unbelievable that every day you pass on the streets thousands lonely people.I feel a big difference in our cultures but in the art world borders seem to disappear. I've met both nice and horrible Londoners. I've never been a racist and I believe in individuals. Yes I experienced racism and misogyny and it hurt my feelings but I'd rather see it as a lack of education than hate itself. I quite like English weather, is always green and winter is not as cold as in Poland. In London you can do million things while is raining.”
The Rebel: When you were growing up were you taken to see photography exhibitions or were there many art books in the your house? Can you remember the first photo to really make an impact on you?
Aleksandra: “Yes I was always interested in exhibitions. Since I remember I never missed any of the big shows. We had lots of books about art and I used to spent all my pocket money on books and albums. The first photographs which I saw were in my family album I loved looking at them and I liked when my mum was telling me stories about people from those photographs.When I was growing up I was more interested in drawing, painting and theatre. I engaged with photography here in London.”
The Rebel: Who are the best photographers around at the moment? Do you rate the famous ones like Annie Leibovits?
Aleksandra: “I don't have just one master. I am inspired by many photographers. I always try to learn from the masters being at the same time aware of the contemporary art. I love Nadav Kanders landscapes , Antoine D'Aagata for his fine art touch in documentary photography. I don't believe there is one and the best photographer. They all use photography as a language to tell us different stories, they are all fascinated with different subjects. I respect Annie Leibovits, I would love to get to that point in my photography one day where she is at the moment. She is a very creative person and I admire her work for her huge control over her images.”
The Rebel: How many cameras do you own? Do you have a favourite?
Aleksandra: “I have 6 cameras but I only use 2 of them. I have 30 years old Practica PL3 . My mother bought this camera when she was my age. Zorky, which doesn't work, was my grandfathers camera. I love my medium format camera Mamiya RB 67 and most of the time I work with that kit. I prefer shooting on film and I use the digital equipment only if I need to work quick and in a low light conditions. I would love to get a large format camera one day.”
The Rebel: How many images have you made this year that you're really proud of?
Aleksandra: “It’s not how many you took or made it is more about the final edit, final story. This year was really productive and I completed 5 projects. I am proud of two. ''The sound of Emptiness'' was short-listed for Sony Professional Awards this year and was shown in Somerset House from 27 of April until 22 of May.”
The Rebel: What do you love most about photography?
Aleksandra: “I work with this medium in the same way I used to work with painting or drawings.I always observed and analysed and that is what I basically do with my photography. I come back to the same places over an over again and wait for the right moment for the right light. I photograph the same object over and over again, using my images as sketches for the final picture. Photography is my language, is a tool which helps me to share myself with others.”
The Rebel: Are you ambitious? What are your art dreams for the future?
Aleksandra: “As I said before I am less naïve nowadays. I want to keep going. My dream is to produce bodies of work which won't be just hidden in a drawer. I am ready to dedicate my life to it, I have done it already. I would love to continue my education and be able to afford the Masters degree. I appreciate that in this current climate continuing my education might not be that easy.”
The Rebel: What keeps you awake at night?
Aleksandra: “My ideas.”
The Rebel: When was the last time you felt really content or happy about life?
Aleksandra: “It was in December last year when I went back to Poland to complete my religion project. At this time I was reading a lot about Buddhism, Zen and pantheism. I was more aware and I was calmer. Photographing this project was like a balm for my soul. I felt that almost everything in my life was going the right direction. I also went to Cornwall in May. Staying in close relationship with nature makes me calm and happy, I feel like I belong to it.
The Rebel: Do you know any good jokes?
Aleksandra: “Sometimes I think that I am a big joke. I laugh a lot at myself.”

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