Inspired by trips to Japan and Taiwan, photographer Adjorka’s latest photo series explores the emotional claustrophobia of urban landscapes. Taken over a course of several months, the project was a quest to provide an insight into the existence of an individual within an overpopulated metropolitan landscape: “Metropolitan cities can cheat you out of your solitude by being populated with other people.”
Raised in a post-communist, industrial part of Poland, Adjorka soon developed an obsessive interest in cinematography and photography particularly European and East Asian art cinema which often dealt with issues of disconnection from the contemporary society. This fascination manifests in the photographer’s latest project, attracted to the irony surrounding the loneliness of crowded urban environments, Adjorka explores the big cities and the necessity of coexisting in those environments.
What is most intriguing about the London-based artist’s photographs is that, while her concept may surround the subject of coexisting, there is not a figure in sight amongst her images. It is through the architecture of the urban landscapes that the photographer conveys a sense of ghostly isolation.
Thalia Chin: Can you tell me about the inspiration behind High Density?
Adjorka: I’ve been fascinated by the idea of empty spaces which at some point or another will have or had humans in them, people leave that space eventually but their energy still lingers.
Thalia: What encouraged you to go to Taiwan and Japan?
Adjorka: Both Tokyo and Taiwan have interesting energies. Tokyo’s population is 13.5 million yet people find creative ways to coexist in that space peacefully and respectfully. I was kind of attracted to that ‘discomfort’ I guess you can say I was also drawn in by the magic of both places, by people, by culture (so different from the Western world) by landscapes, it’s the opposite to what feels familiar to me and as a result, is mentally liberating.
Thalia: Your photographs depict big cities that are richly populated but still somewhat empty and lonely. Does this reflect personal experiences you have had in big cities? What impact did being in those environments have on you?
Adjorka: Definitely, there’s some sort of a refection there, state of mind I was in at the time, emotional isolation of sorts. When I first came to Japan I just started to take photos without having any clear or specific idea in mind. After a few months, when I got all my rolls back from the photo lab, I realised I had been naturally gravitating towards the empty areas within large crowded cities. Later, I came back to Japan to explore this feeling further.
Thalia: Human figures rarely appear in your images, can you tell me a bit about why you made this decision to focus your work on landscapes and the surrounding environments?
Adjorka: I wanted to be an observer of people enjoying their ‘solitude’ and not an invader so I would always stand far away from the person I wanted to capture. The idea of the insignificance of a human-being against a vast landscape fascinates me. You suddenly realise you’re just a particle, ego gets thrown out of the window.
Thalia: Do you think you will pursue this aesthetic and subject matter further or move to something different?
Adjorka: I’m off to Mumbai next followed by a road trip to States. I might continue with the aesthetic depending on what my heart/mind feels like. If it feels right in the gut and the intent is true, I tend to follow it.
Thalia: How did you first get involved in photography?
Adjorka: It was out of pure curiosity at the age of fourteen or fifteen, a curiosity about the process of taking a photograph – stealing a frame in time with a camera and then let it brew in the darkroom to finally come out in full form, usually the image would appear different to what you expected. The anticipation of that has always felt strong and exciting to me, and still does.
Thalia: What is next for you?
Adjorka: I’d like to work on a photo book, a visual and sonic diary of sorts. I like the idea of photographic ‘work’ being cinematic. Growing up on European and East Asian cinema most of my life it feels like a natural process for me to combine cinematic photography with sound.