For our next interview from our Ideas on Talent series, we spoke to Weronika Gesicka about her recent successes and exhibition at Foam Talent 2017.
PW: Could you tell us a bit about how your background and how you came to image making?
WG: I became interested in photography during my studies at the Academy of Fine Arts. Initially, it was just one of the many subjects that I studied, and I was more absorbed in painting during that time. Photography, however, began to draw me in more and more, and eventually became the main medium in my work. What attracted me to it the most, was its apparent objectivity, and I was interested in all the attempts to show that this objectivity it is just an illusion.
PW: Your work involves using archival imagery and manipulating it to create surreal and sometimes, confusing imagery. Can you talk us through your process of making your work? Where do the images come from?
WG: All of the photographs were purchased from an image bank. Most of them come from the US archives from the 1950’s and 1960’s. The project was inspired by random scenes found on the Internet which looked like typical family photos but, as it turned out, were in fact stock photographs and it is impossible to tell whether they came from an authentic family album or if they were commissioned for commercial purposes. I decided to subject these images to various kinds of modifications in Photoshop and create a kind of catalogue of memories in which fact and fiction are mixed together. In each photo, I find an element that serves as the base for creating a completely new story.
PW: Your series Traces makes a comment on memory and the truthfulness of images. What do you hope a viewer to get from looking at your works?
WG: The project touches on various aspects of memory. On the one hand, it is a story about the memory of an individual: how does our perception of the world change over the years and why do we remember certain relationships and situations very well, while others get slowly blurred. On the other hand, it is an attempt to look at the memory in the broader context of social memory. Photography, which is a memory medium, shapes our social and cultural identity. It allows us to create a reality that, after some time, will start to be treated as a historical truth. You can look at these photographs from numerous perspectives and I hope that different viewers will find different ways of perceiving them.
PW: You were recently selected as a Foam Talent 2017, amongst many other awards and accolades. What advice would you give an emerging photographer hoping to have a similar career path?
WG:I think that it is extremely important for a young artist to let other people see their work at a certain point, and various competitions provide a great opportunity for that. They are a chance to show your works to a wider audience and hear the opinions of experts in the field of art. Competitions, however, have a very specific format, there are often many great projects but only a very limited number of people can be chosen. Therefore, even if you go unnoticed, don’t give up but try to make your project reach the audience differently. Of course, each failure – even if it is only our subjective feeling – causes at least a momentary discouragement, but it is important to be able to find the willingness and strength to continue working despite it.
PW: You’re taking part in Plat(t)form in Fotomuseum Winterthur in the next few days. What are you hoping to achieve from that?
WG: Plat(t)form is a portfolio viewing, during which artists present their work to curators and specialists in the world of art, but also to the public. During one weekend you can see projects of several dozen young artists from all over Europe, but above all, you can talk to them and learn more about their works. Therefore, this is not a typical display of photographs; discussions, which can be an inspiration for further work, are an important part of the event.
PW: Finally, what’s next for you?
WG: I am currently hard at work on a new project. It also deals with the theme of memory, but it presents this issue from a slightly different angle than Traces. It is a project based on objects, items, and photographs that form a common story about whether we can and will we be able to read the truth about the past objectively, and whether we have an influence on how we will be perceived in the future.
For more from our Ideas on Talent series, click here.
For more of Weronika’s work, click here.