Monday, 3 March 2008

Rites of Passage con Przemysław Pokrycki Pryma

© Przemysław Pokrycki

Di recente ho visto alcuni lavori di Przemysław Pokrycki Pryma, giovane fotografo polacco. In particolare mi interessava il progetto Rites of Passage, gentilmente ci ha concesso questa intervista via email.

PH39 - Tell us about your work? Przemysław Pokrycki Pryma - With my work I want to show a piece of every day life. People in their surrounding, usually at work or at home. I'm interested in general in a man in his/her surrounding.

PH39 -Your works describes social every day life or is there more to it? PPP - Interpretation is up to the one who is watching. I'm photographing a little bit like an amateur, a layman: people in the centre of a picture and a lot of background visible. Most of amateur pictures look like this. From my experience I know that interpretation depends mostly an a person who looks at a picture. I don't want to make up any philosophy or ideology to my work. I make a documentary, that is all from me. Now it is up to sociologist to discuss about life condition, social classes or whatever they want. Art critics may discus about aesthetic value. And so called "common people" will pay attention to something different too (long legs of a female driving instructor or to a mass on someone's desk). I'm interested in making documentary, in collecting pictures as someone else collects stamps, or postcards, or whatever.

PH39 -How do you decide which project to work on and what subject to pick ? PPP - Sometime ago I worked for a press agency. I went to photograph a strike in a factory and that is how I started Laborers project and I visited the following factories just for my own project. At the same time economic situation in few big companies (mine, car production factory, shipyard) became critical. Companies that hired few thousands people were about to collapse and workers were going on strikes. I went to all those places and collected a whole series.
Nowadays I photograph Inhabitants and Workers because these are people that I portrait everyday for all kinds of magazines.
Each time I try to take one picture just from myself: I put wide lens and stand in front of a person, and I press the button. After this one shot I take pictures for a magazine. This first one I also sent to a magazine but it's usually not chosen to be published. I usually hear from an editor that this one is no good and they need just "a head" (meaning a close portrait of a face).

PH39 What drew you to Rites of passage project and was it planned from the beginning this way?
PPP - I started working on Rites of passage photographing on communions and later weddings. Them I realized I would also need baptism ceremony and funerals to have whole life cycle. A photographer assists family in most of these situation (nowadays not so often at funerals as 20 years ago) These are very important moments in people lives. And everyone looks good, wear their best clothes, the best dishes are put on a table.

PH39 -How important is for for your work the content in relation to the aesthetic?
PPP -I don't care much about aesthetic. I put most important person in the centre of the frame. I have a flash with umbrella behind me, usually I take 10 pictures . Aesthetic on my pictures is the one I find in the place: size of the room, housing condition etc decide about final effect.

PH39-Rite of passage includes all main phase of a person catholic life, do you fell like intruding people`s life?
PPP - Rites of passage are not specific only for catholic life. But there are up to 90% of catholics in Poland.
I photograph people in situations which are very important for them, and they want to have a picture of those moments. I'm not a paparazzo, I'm not spying through a keyhole. Situation in between us is a very clear one: a photographer, a camera and people photographed. I never use hidden camera. I'm a guest on a ceremony, not an intruder.

PH39- I imagine it must be quite difficult to build a trust with certain topic, how did you develop this trust.
PPP -I usually have a contact to a family from someone I know, it "opens door" for me, I'm not an anonymous. I sometimes asked people I didn't know (in front of a church). I offered them pictures for free in exchange for their agreement for publication.

PH39- In this project you touch some personal aspect of people life, how do you define boundaries for what to show and what not to show in your work?
I show what people let me show. If they don't want something to be visible I don't photograph it. I use camera which needs a tripod and external flash, it's not a cell phone camera that you can photograph unnoticed. I have certain problems photographing funerals. There was a custom of photographing whole family with open coffin but today it is a rare thing. In the rural communities you can still find people sitting and praying around open coffin. In cities there are sanitary regulations forbidding dead body in a house. Ritual of last farewell become limited only to at a church or at a chapel.

PH39- Tell us about the inhabitant project, did you know the people or how did you meet them. Was the project based in Poland?
PPP - All my projects are based in Poland. Inhabitants are either my friends or people I meet when photographing for press.
With my pictures I describe world around me. This reality is very familiar but sometimes very surprising. I see a lot of work to be done for my projects in Poland. I want to photograph here, I don't look for extreme situations as war, hunger or disasters. Society in itself is most interesting for me: changing life styles and standard of living after transformation of 1989. I regret I didn't start my projects then.

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