Interview – Anna Jarosz PL

anna jarosz_portrait

Initially, you were educated in different fields. How did you choose your artistic career?

I have background in still photography and have been studying at both film school and academy of fine arts. I have been practicing photography for many years, yet at some point I realised it’s quite a limiting way of working. I don’t remember exactly when I decided to open myself and started to explore other media, but I feel like it was a very natural transition. Right now I experiment a lot and I try to understand how to communicate in the most accurate way.

Your work is very experimental and diverse. What are your inspirations? Is there a specific media that you love working in?

I’m not sure if I’d refer to my work as experimental. I started to slowly shift from photography and video to sculpture a couple of years ago and now my practice is mostly installation-based. I still discover the world of sculpture, since I’m self-taught in this area. For example, recently I’ve done stone sculpting in stone for the first time and that gave me a lot of joy and expanded my idea about what is possible within my own practice.

Your work is closely related to gender matters and trauma. This topic used to be sort of a taboo. As an artist, did you encounter any difficulties when you opened up about the topic?

Yes, you are right. I would say I am often balancing on the edge of this taboo. One the one hand, there are people who encounter my work as too aggressive, confrontational in some way. On the other, I hear it is not a topic anymore and the society, or rather the art world, has moved in a different direction. Yet, I see importance and value in talking about collective trauma connected to gender inequality, especially in the context of the country I was born and grew up in – Poland. A lot of the site-specific work you do can’t be archived in a
traditional way. Is the only way to access it again through your body and mind (memory/experience)? That would be ideal – yes. But as you know in current circumstances attending openings in not so easy nor popular. Therefore I am questioning this way of presenting the work. At the same time I always try to document the work in a representable way so it can be accessible for people to see in alternative spaces, for example online. I prefer if people encounter the work personally, because then they can feel it in a very different way, the way I intend it to exist in a space, actually.

How did being an alien in Sweden influence your work?

That’s a tricky one! I don’t think I was such an alien, I mostly felt out of the context some of the time. I lived in Gothenburg for two years while doing my master’s degree and it was an extremely important moment in my artistic development. It gave me a lot of new tools and allowed me to open up to new materials, I started to experiment a lot. Yet the most important skill living in Sweden provided me with is a big boost in self-confidence and believing that practicing art can be and is work. I am very grateful I had a possibility to be there for some time.

Do you consider yourself a nomad artist? How important is to circulate and create in different surroundings?

I don’t consider myself a nomad artist, not at all. I think it is quite difficult for me to work in constant movement, since I am usually working with different materials that require specific circumstances, for example a certain type of workshop. I also think it is quite problematic to position myself in a new place, especially if it is the first time I am in this particular spot. I usually need a lot of time to adjust to the environment and it could be an overstimulating experience.

What is the next destination? Any plans?

Not many big plans for now, no. The world became more limiting than ever, so maybe it is time to redefine the idea of planning?

What made you choose Belgrade? Did you find your inspiration?

I visited Belgrade before a couple of years ago and I felt this sensation of home that I couldn’t grasp. I wanted to return since and a residency was a great opportunity to try and identify this feeling and connect it to my practice.

What is your project about?

I’ve spent one month in Belgrade so the work I developed during the residency is more of a starting point to a long-term research. Together
with artist Astrid Vlasman we exhibited some parts of our work in Ostavinska gallery. “I was sat at the corner of a table” was a reflection around the notion of superstition and its connection to the collective experience of trauma. An exploration of significant cultural links between my motherland of Poland and Serbia, and furthermore how the uncertainty of current reality allows space for superstitious beliefs to re-emerge and flourish.

Your message to future artists in Belgrade…
…would be to stay open and never stop questioning yourself and your surroundings.