‘Oyster’ combines a large variety of visual materials – archive, polaroids, snapshots, new images. Why did you choose this multi-layered visual strategy?
That’s the way I usually work. I mean, I’m not bound to one format or camera in particular. So, over the years I put together the work and it consists of many different visual materials. Slides, prints, etc.
I think that it depicts life perfectly. Life has no logic, no rules. I mean everything happens in a way or another. We have no control over it. Oyster is about life, its tragedies, and epiphanies. So, it can’t have a specific form.
In ‘Oyster’, you are presenting photographs alongside short hand-written entries and dates. What would you say is the role of text in the project?
I wrote the text while I was editing. I usually edit the project by attaching pictures in a Moleskine or notepad. It was something I repeated over and over again. And I needed to write stuff to organize the project which in the end, gave it a chronological order too.
I mainly did it to remember facts, events, and people. The dates and texts gave ‘Oyster’ a sense of rhythm. It’s like making music, writing a song in some way.
You created ‘Oyster’ over the course of 10 years, in the book form it gains a strong diaristic quality. When was the moment when you knew the project is finished?
I usually understand when a project is finished when I start to unglue the pictures from the walls in my house. It’s like completing a puzzle or solving a rebus. At some point my head clicks and I am at peace.
‘Oyster’ can be described as a search for a cause of your dysfunctional childhood environment and particularly, the absence of your parents. Did the project bring you a sense of closure, the clue you were looking for?
I think at some point I realized that to me is more than that; I was looking to tell my story. The purpose for me was therapeutic. I had to get back and see everything from different perspectives, and by that, I mean through compassion, acceptance, and love. It was essential for me to close a certain cycle of life. The project is really complex, it includes many elements. I gave a sense to a lot of madness in my life, to my parents and their lives. I accepted the fact that a lot has happened, and many things are, therefore, hidden under the surface in the pictures. I’d like to think that those who look at the project will face all the questions and secrets I have accepted to live with all my life.
In your other series ‘Pigeons #1’ you combine all images of pigeons you collected over the past years with the words “when you get too anxious, think about pigeons.” You are portraying the birds in a way they resemble humans. What do these pigeons symbolize for you?
I always try to work on different levels in my projects. A lot of people smile or think it’s funny when they see the project. They find pigeons to be stupid, clumsy, and goofy beings. I think those characteristics in a picture become a great place to hide more deep and meaningful messages.
Only a few people asked me the right question: What is behind the pictures of pigeons? The opening sentence is “when you get too anxious, think about pigeons.” What horrendous things am I hiding with those pigeons? Why so many pictures? Why so many pigeons over and over again? How many anxious moments?
This is a project about mental health. I hope that viewers who look at the project go beyond the first layer and search for more information, that they’d surpass pure aesthetics of photography and contemplate.
The pictures of pigeons are pure freedom from pain; they are moments of complete freedom from any rule, from any rational thought. Pure instinct. I have a picture of a pigeon in every roll of film I made. I like them a lot.
Both ‘Oyster’ and ‘Pigeons #1’ are long-term projects and they seem to reflect on the general notions of human condition and existence but at the same time, they are strongly personal. What would you say signifies your work as an artist?
I try to understand reality. I try to understand myself through others. I really want to grasp the notion of existence and the human experience of life. I don’t usually think about images. I’m looking for experiences and then the photograph happens.
I like the medium of photography because it helps me to move forward, to elaborate life, to accept the daily madness. I’m looking for beauty, I try to be amazed and see the poetry around me. It keeps my senses alive. It keeps me out of my comfort zone.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on some projects and I’m using a medium format camera a lot lately but right now, it is really difficult to take pictures of people. I miss people and social situations. Isolation is heavy.
‘Oyster’ was published in 2019 by Void and can be purchased here.