Light Sensitive: Outside of specifically photography or art, what are the larger interests and influences in your work?
Joanna Chudy: In the past the most common source of my photographic inspiration was religious art inspired by the Bible. How to compose a photo was very much steeped in religious symbolism and elements of religious architecture, which frequently appeated as landscapes in the background of my photos.
Over time, my religious threads have been replaced by motives taken from literature.
Quite a strong inspiration for me was the work of Bruno Schulz and by James Joyce. However, my recent projects have been inspired by the work of Andrei Tarkovsky and Krzysztof Kieslowski.
Currently in my photographic work I concentrate on everyday stories, and perhaps more prosaic things. I’m less interested in great events, and more interested in everyday life.
LS: What effect are you hoping your work has on your audience?
JC: Looking at photographs, I remember those that have made an impression on me and make me think. I came back to these photographs frequently. I want my photographs to create similar emotions.
Where does your interest in memory and history come from? How are these interests reflected in your larger life beyond photography and art?
I do not know. I attach great importance to old age and the past and the things that remind me of an older time.
I am particularly interested in the two videos you have produced from your still photographs. When, why, and how did you decide to create video work from your still photography? How do you think the video format alters the way that your images are understood? What can you do and say with video that you can’t do with a still image?
The first video was created to relate to the project Silesian Ulysses. I collected a lot of different interesting materials about Silesia. Among them was a very interesting album, TU! (translated HERE!) by the band Mołr Drammaz. Putting this album music with the interviews strongly exposes the Silesian dialect. I decided to combine these very private conversations with my photographs of Silesia. The notes of these talks stressed the family atmosphere of Silesia and told about the history, traditions and customs that are already disappearing.
With the second project video, Fragmentary Memories or Postcards from Travel, it was already quite different. Appearing at a different time, the images emphasize the time of their creation. This forces the viewer to put history on a timeline. The audio is only a supplement, but the timing and pacing of the photos is very important.
Photography is silent, and audio introduces something unique and builds a narrative story in a very subtle way. It seems to me that audio complements the image, and the video format makes it possible to create similar connections.
Your interest in using diptychs, triptychs, and of course video, suggests that you have a strong interest in multiple-image narratives. Can you talk about why you use multiple images in your work, rather than focusing on only a single image to convey meaning?
I like to create photo narratives. There is also great freedom in this. It is difficult to actually put in a single frame the whole story, especially when using a camera with a standard focal length. Of course, there are artists who do this using a wide panoramic frame where the action is stretched across the entire width of the image, but I am not interested in capturing a single moment in a single frame. The combination of several photographs gives me the opportunity to build associations, while also breaking the continuity of time and discouraging literal interpretations.
I was not thinking about creating individual photos, which are based on visually strong elements and forms. I do not want to shout with my images or make posters. I have a greater need to build mood.
What drew you to photography? Do you remember the first photograph you ever created that made you want to become a photographer/artist?
I have been photographing for a long time, but never seriously. It was always on the scale of a family album and documentation. I have only had 10 years experience in creative photography. This has given me the opportunity to connect my teaching with my artistic activities.
I remember my first camera, which I found in my mother’s wardrobe. And the next, which I got from my brother. I remember my first exposed rolls of film, but I cannot remember the photographic influences which had an impact on my choice of art. I remember exactly the first photograph that made a big impression on me. It was a picture of twins standing at a gate under a cross.
Do you consider your work to be in any way a fragment of your own autobiography? Would it make sense to understand your work as a form of self-portraiture?
I think that in my work there are a lot of elements that are close to me. Spaces, people, places, and situations. It may seem that I talk about myself and these works are part of my autobiography. However, I believe that in my pictures there is so much creation it quite effectively separates reality from fiction.
If, for some reason, you could no longer make photographs, what would you replace it with?
If I could no longer create my photography, design, conserve and restore of old things; if I couldn’t concentrate on the creation of new pieces of art, sewing, cooking; if I couldn’t even take up a new sport because it would be too late? Then what? I think I would work with people. It is my way.