PHOTOGRAPHER AND ARTIST: DISCOVER MORE READING OUR INTERVIEW!
Maciek in 3 words.
Focused, silly, curious.
What do you think about identity and gender of the contemporary society?
There’s so much to say! It’s difficult for people in the Western world to accept that they are deeply informed by their society for how they operate and view themselves. In individualistic societies (and ones ostensibly based on merit), people assume their identity and station in life is solely up to them, but it’s not entirely. It’s largely a result of responding to overt and subliminal social cues and values, depending on your social standing. For example, you might become a banker or start a tech company because it speaks to you and your identity, but most likely it’s because your personality type has been bred into this slot and it’s a natural fit for society’s needs. You fit a mold. When people don’t though, that’s when they aren’t successful and don’t contribute to GDP or other economic indicators.
So my project ‘A Thousand Souls’ offers two ideas simultaneously: we are all very much the same, as we are part of that one big construct. And we are also composed of many contradictory identities and impulses within ourselves that battle for supremacy, depending on the circumstance. So I want to show a side of people they may not know exist, even an alien image of themselves to challenge their own identity. Who are you, really? The slot you fit into within this society? Who would you be without this slot?
Conversely, I’ve seen how people react strangely when they cannot tell the gender of a person. They feel a little lost when they cannot label someone or put them into a category for them to understand. The mystery is difficult. So the project works in that direction as well, to challenge how they see other people and how they react.
It’s been interesting see ideas of gender and identity evolve over the last ten years as people question why men are pushed to be this way, or women in this direction. It’s gratifying to see this conversation happening, so we can be more aware of the forces that shape us.
If you were not Maciek who would you like to be?
I think when you’re young and you admire or want to be like certain people for being successful or having a certain style, that’s natural. You’re looking to fill an internal void with something you view as worthwhile. But I’m not young anymore and I’m satisfied being myself. I don’t want to be anyone else.
Do you remember your first photo?
I remember the first color portrait I took for ‘A Thousand Souls.’ I had just begun experimenting with colors in front of the lens after seeing several impressionist paintings in London that made me think about the possibilities of color and motion in photography. And finally I got to see this whole world open up! It was very exciting to see how color and focus could completely change a person’s identity. And that’s been my direction since.