An Interview With: Kamila Bernacka
Who are you and where did you study?
Hello, I'm Kamila Bernacka, I'm originally from Poland and I studied BA Photography at Middlesex University in London.
What is your artist statement for this body of work?
Jelenia Gora is a beautiful city where past and presence collide. The elderly live by the memories and habits from PRL (Polish People Republic), catholicism and tradition are a key part of their culture. The youth migrate for a better future.
Our minds have a tendency to idolise places from our childhood memories. This project is about returning to a place I once knew, and discovering it again with fresh eyes.
Unfortunately the political situation and ignorance of the government means I am unable to return home and live a comfortable life. Not being able to live in the place I was born and raised motivated me to undertake this project.
What was your reason for using both black and white plus colour?
I started it as a black and white series focusing more on the nature and the beauty of the place, but somewhere during the process it evolved into documentary. I felt by sticking just to black and white I'm striping half of the information that might help get the feeling of the place. At the same time I didn't want to get rid of black and white images completely so I merged them together with the colour ones.
What was the process of shooting this series?
I took my Mamiya for three trips to Poland, each one about 3-4 weeks long, shooting medium format and a bit of Polaroids on the side as well. The landscape and urban frames are a mixture of my returning to places I know whilst also venturing into those that are new to me. I tried to get out of my comfort zone a bit, to do this I choose people who I haven't met before but who reflected upon me a sense of community. Of course I shoot some of my family members as well, and one of the most important images I took for this series is a portrait of my uncle who unfortunately passed away before I got to finish the project.
Who influences your photographic style?
The first person I researched was Ansel Adams, but as the project evolved I looked more into Polish documentary photographers like Irena Jarosinska or Eustachy Kossakowski.
Was there anything you learnt about yourself and country whilst shooting this project?
It made me realised how much I have changed. The way I think and look at the world is much different, and it could've been so much different if I never left.I think people often worry over the little things which can make them resentful or bitter, however it has also shown me the joyous side of people. This showed during my project as I have met two extremes whilst shooting, those who genuinely seemed happy to help and those who had no interest in my work at all (some even looked at me like I was crazy).
How do you hope your viewers responded to your work?
This project came out of love and nostalgia to my hometown, so I'm hoping they'll appreciate the beauty of the place but at the same time reflect on what this project stands for.
What are your plans for the future?
I'm hoping to go back to do my MA next September.
What is the best piece of advice you could give the viewers of The Pupil Sphere?
Believe in yourself and do what feels right to you. There are always people who will tell you what you can and cannot do but if you need to listen to yourself. Do what you do for your project and not the grades.