In our daily exploration, there are so many questions popping out that sometimes fall into a cycle of doubt. How can we properly review a scene without an apparently animated body? Although, photography is commonly associated with the capture of a moment, how is it possible to separate the ordinary from the extraordinary? Here’s when Jagoda Wisniewska participates in the game of revelation.
Her entire portfolio is a clear proof of the art of patience that results in a wide range of images that not present an artificial structure, on the contrary her professional gallery, shows us the ephemeral of perfection and at the same time, reaffirms that perfection does not focus only on moments, but on accepting the forms that characterize a gesture whether human or not.
Today we open the doors of our editorial to the opinions and the heart of Jagoda Wisniewska, a remarkable Polish photographer.
Words by Gianfranco Peña
The most notorious thing we found in your work is how interested you are in the environment over animate and inanimate objects. Did you feel attracted to this field from the beginning?
Through my work, I look closely into nature literally and non literally. Always try to somehow link, often not intentionally, with the concept of nature vs human-made. Growing up next to woods contributed to my notion of home and safe-zone = good zone, that was always in contact with the ‘natural’ environment. I also think of plants as a source of so-called “eternal” truth, a source of the circle of life and love to refer to it in my work.
I do that mostly unconsciously because it does not mean that all I do is linked with trees and butterflies. For me, the depiction of the natural environment is always extremely pleased because it gives us the ability to day-dream.
Are you original from Switzerland? What’s your opinion on the educational system? Is there a real place for arts and humanities?
I am not Swiss, I am originally from Poland, but I am currently living and working in Switzerland. I have decided to stay in Switzerland after graduating from MA course in Art Direction from ECAL. The educational system I have experienced here in Switzerland during my time at ECAL surprised me a lot. I think it is very different to what I have experienced in the UK, where I did my Bachelor studies in Photography and Film in Scotland. Coming here from the UK I was under big shock because everything seemed much “harder” and “harsher” to what I have known. The level at ECAL is very high, and it is a quite competitive environment and you are a part of a big group of talented and very hardworking students. This obliges you to stay focused and work as hard as the rest trying not to forget who you are and what you really want to do. What’s is great about studying in Switzerland are the facilities that are available to you, the resources that you can use. This country is very open to new ideas and intellectual exchange and that is also quite great!
In the recent years, there is a huge polemic discussion about the role of the digital media in every aspect of our lives. Do you think this also corresponds to photography? Does analog photography still have room to grow?
Yes, for sure we are deeply in and within the digital, and avoiding it when working with photography seems often undoable. Observing the recent trends in photographic arts the digital holds an important position amongst the contemporary creators, who use the digital manipulations to create yet another type of aesthetics. To name few people who are prominent in this type of treatments, for example, are Nico Krijno, Manon Wertenbroek or Sara Cwynar. Their techniques implementing the digital are all different, but I think their approach to the digital stands as a good example of the photographic changes in the recent years. Despite the era of screens I still truly believe that the status of film is up to date and film is being used as much simply because it holds a lot of technical qualities, until now for many, unfindable in the digital, as well as because film’s aura reminds us of the magic of photography. And let’s be honest, no one truly in love with photography does want to lose the magic!
What elements or epochs inspire the mind of Jagoda Wisniewska?
From the elements that inspire me, I would point out books: philosophy, science, and current literature, people I meet, watching TEDX, travelling, looking and seeing! Always asking questions about what I see. Personal conflicts and struggles also play their inspirational role, because they are the triggers to start thinking or doing something new.
In many aspects, photography is a work of patience, but let’s be honest: the commercial needs are undeniable and rarely respect the creative pause. Has this speed on results benefits or does it undermine the talent of many artists?
Personal conflicts and struggles also play their inspirational role, because they are the triggers to start thinking or doing something new.
Working under pressure and with time limits is somehow amazing. Every graphic designer and that is what I learned from graphic designers who I met on my way, set themselves restricting rules that eventually lead them to be more efficient and work better. If we have all the time in the world to realize a project, would we do a better job then if we had 72 hours? Would we work as much knowing we have no time limitation?
Is time the limit? Is sky the limit? I guess it also depends on the person and their inner-clock. Some creatives work much better with strict deadlines and others hate it. I know many people, including myself, despite having “a lot of time” to work on something start rather late, when the deadline is approaching.
I will claim rather that not time-limitation but ‘stress’ and ‘pressure’ can undermine the talent. I think that when we work on a project for a long time it can go really intense, turn directions, lead to new results. This is great at first, but it can also be seen as a huge limitation, taking us off-track. At some point everything has to come to an end, right?
Let us be something philosophical, Is it possible to catalog beauty?
I am not sure if it is possible to do so. Shall we google it?
I guess this is not truly definite even if we try. For now, I can say I am still learning about beauty since I am mostly driven by things that are not so beautiful (haha). John Berger’s book “Ways of seeing” is kind of helpful I think, because through looking and seeing we can somehow get closer to understand it, learn to recognize it and perhaps later be able to classify it.
What is your current photo setup?
I am working a lot with a digital camera, using various ‘eyes’ for it, but my number one is 85mm canon lens. I absolutely adore it. Another of my beloved cameras I use as often as the digital is Contax G2 with the amazing mini flash (that also fits the Canon !!!) and 90mm lens.
If you can choose a word for this morning, what would it be?
This morning I woke up with a bad hangover…. The word I would choose for this particular morning would be: “ Snooze”.
If we could travel your country through your photographs, could you recommend somewhere to start?
The travels through images are the most amazing travels I like to take regularly on my own. I often go back to my archives and stream frame by frame. So many people so many places! I think this makes being a photographer so wonderful. I have photographed a lot in Poland, and I think I have a tiny piece of history recorded for life. There would be indeed a lot of to discover. I would recommend starting my seeing a lot of Polish faces since I photographed my Polish friends and family, their homes, gardens, cellars …
Speaking about real travels – I would recommend starting in my hometown Bydgoszcz!
If you ever visit Poland you would probably not go there, because it is not THE PLACE to visit. Unless! Unless you are working within the film industry, then you come for Cameraimage International Film Festival that takes place in the darkest, greyest month of November. Or, if you ever are going to come to Bydgoszcz, you might be also involved with sports, doing Karate or Athletics… and would come for championships that take place in Bydgoszcz.
Well, I would start by recommending to visit Bydgoszcz anyhow, on your way to the north of the country. In Northern Poland, there is a place called Hell, located on the Polish Peninsula and it is a super cool kite surfing place, with amazing beaches and woods. I love to go there! Shall you visit Switzerland, my current second home, I would recommend starting in Lausanne! Come here in the month of June, because you would have the greatest time swimming in the lake facing the Alps or hiking away in many of the possible paths. The views are just incredible!
We love the apparent nexus (net) between the target and you. How is it possible to achieve that level of intimacy with the subject you want to photograph? How do you manage to convey that to the final canvas?
Thank you! I am happy this net of correlations is visible to you through my photographs. I wish to believe this is what makes the whole process so beautiful and why some people love to look at others through the camera lens. For me, this is the purest feeling of power and freedom at the same time, because when I am photographing someone who is and gives me his momentary presence I am truly grabbing it and I don’t feel bad about it.
For me, photography is really violent when I work with people and I always try to show my “hunger” for their presence. I take a lot of pictures, I think this helps to find the one I was looking for when working on the final selection. I think editing is as much important as the photographing and I do love to work on that part of the process same much.
For me, photography is really violent when I work with people and I always try to show my “hunger” for their presence.
When I work with someone I know I think it is really easier to “get deeper under their skin” and “push them” a little towards images of themselves that they did not imagine. I think it is great to be seen by someone else and I hope people I photograph are finding some other them in the images I take.
Besides, photographing people gives me a lot of confidence since I am not the best speaker, I rather take a photograph of someone then have a chit-chat. (by the way, chit chats are so bad…).
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