PAWEL JASCZCUK


Interview with Pawel Jaszczuk, conducted by Gunther Dietrich,

director of the gallery in Dec. 2010

 

Photo Edition Berlin (PEB): How long do you live in Japan and why did you

choose Japan, whilst you were born and raised in Poland?

 

Pawel Jaszczuk (PJ): I did not choose Japan, you could say that Japan did

choose me. When I was studying Arts in Australia i met Reiko, who is my wife

now. And at this time I was thinking about what to do and where to go after

being finished with university, so it just happened that we landed in Japan. My

wife is Japanese and she wanted to go back to Japan and I followed her. I was

never planning this, I just went with the flow. Now I enjoy Japan a lot and I am

living here for already about 6 years.

I left Poland in 2001. That was a time when I could enjoy my life and explore

the world. A friend of mine loved Australia and wanted me to come down there.

I came and stayed and studied Visual Arts there.

 

PEB: Why are you a photographer?

 

PJ: Basically I am more into pantings than photography, but i became

photographer because I have to be on the move all the time. I can not stay in

the studio and be at the computer all the time, I need to move. Photography

gave me the opportunity to always be on the move.

 

PEB: From your pictures we can see that you are usually on the move at night

time...

 

PJ: Yes, I am definitely a night person. Today i woke up at 3 a.m. I can find my

motives in the night.

 

PEB: Can you tell us the story about the series „Sleeping Train“?

 

PJ: The whole project started in 2004. It was the beginning of my friendship

with Japan. When I came here i was curious about everything. One early

morning i decided to visit the fish market. So I went into the train. There were

25 people and they were all sleeping. And I checked the other trains, too, and

almost everywhere everyone were asleep there, too. I thought that this is

amazing. And there I shoot the first photographs. This is a really common

picture, sleeping people in trains.

 

PEB: Did the people you photograph wake up some time and see you

photographing them or did you get in trouble photographing them sometimes?

 

PJ: I never got in any trouble at all. Some people from the train companies

approach me and say that I have to stop photographing them. But I can not

because there is no way someone can tell me to stop what I do. I only have this

one life and when I want to shoot the pictures, I do this. If I stop making

pictures I do not get the pictures I want. I do really respect the people I

photograph and I think they look just beautiful. The train is a really public space

but they cut themselves out there and just sleep, phenomenal. I take

photographs for the visual effect, which is really important for me, I take

photos of those people because I am interested in HOW they look like, not WHY.

 

PEB: Have you shown your photographs in Japan? What do Japanese people

think about it?

 

PJ: I showed them to all my Japanese friends and other Japanese foreigners. I

got more negative opinions from foreigners than Japanese people. Japanese

people can laugh about themselves, they can understand what I do and have a

certain distance to themselves, it is not offending for them. The very traditional

parents of my wife just think it is funny and realistic.

 

PEB: Is heavy drinking a men's thing in Japanese culture?

 

PJ: No, not only. It is difficult to say men and women drink equally, but it is a

different story. Usually women do have someone to go home with them, to

guide them home like their partner or colleagues or friends. I met many drunk

ladies. I shot some pictures of sleeping ladies on the streets, which is not very

common, and I still think about a project with them.

 

PEB: Tell us something about the series „Stay Still“ and „High Fashion“,

please.PEB: From your pictures we can see that you are usually on the move at night

time...

 

PJ: Yes, I am definitely a night person. Today i woke up at 3 a.m. I can find my

motives in the night.

 

PEB: Can you tell us the story about the series „Sleeping Train“?

 

PJ: The whole project started in 2004. It was the beginning of my friendship

with Japan. When I came here i was curious about everything. One early

morning i decided to visit the fish market. So I went into the train. There were

25 people and they were all sleeping. And I checked the other trains, too, and

almost everywhere everyone were asleep there, too. I thought that this is

amazing. And there I shoot the first photographs. This is a really common

picture, sleeping people in trains.

 

PEB: Did the people you photograph wake up some time and see you

photographing them or did you get in trouble photographing them sometimes?

 

PJ: I never got in any trouble at all. Some people from the train companies

approach me and say that I have to stop photographing them. But I can not

because there is no way someone can tell me to stop what I do. I only have this

one life and when I want to shoot the pictures, I do this. If I stop making

pictures I do not get the pictures I want. I do really respect the people I

photograph and I think they look just beautiful. The train is a really public space

but they cut themselves out there and just sleep, phenomenal. I take

photographs for the visual effect, which is really important for me, I take

photos of those people because I am interested in HOW they look like, not WHY.

PEB: Have you shown your photographs in Japan? What do Japanese people

think about it?

 

PJ: I showed them to all my Japanese friends and other Japanese foreigners. I

got more negative opinions from foreigners than Japanese people. Japanese

people can laugh about themselves, they can understand what I do and have a

certain distance to themselves, it is not offending for them. The very traditional

parents of my wife just think it is funny and realistic.

PEB: Is heavy drinking a men's thing in Japanese culture?

 

PJ: No, not only. It is difficult to say men and women drink equally, but it is a

different story. Usually women do have someone to go home with them, to

guide them home like their partner or colleagues or friends. I met many drunk

ladies. I shot some pictures of sleeping ladies on the streets, which is not very

common, and I still think about a project with them.

 

PEB: Tell us something about the series „Stay Still“ and „High Fashion“,

please.

 

PJ: They are all salarymen, which I started to photograph in 2008. At the first

sight they are really similar to each other. But at a closer look you can see

many differences, I could categorize them. The men who could still stand and

sleep... there you go: „Stay Still“. And „High Fashion“ is almost fashion

photography, the men lay in pose. I have a lot more photographs and

categories but I do not want to show much more, I think three categories are

enough.

 

PEB: Japan has got the highest rate of suicide in the society. Do you think the

pressure and heavy drinking takes impact on this? How is it involved in your

pictures?

 

PJ: My projects are not connected with suicide in Japanese society. They have

the same reasons to drink as we do, some drink because of problems, some

just want to have fun. The difference between them and us is, that they sleep

on the streets afterwards. I talked to the police some time and they say that

there still is robbery, so you might lost your bag while sleeping on the streets

but it is absolutely not common. You can not say it is accepted by the society

but it just is kind of common and the society never looks down to people who

fall asleep on the streets. Everybody gets drunk from time to time so they think

it is just a part of their lives.

I for myself do not judge this people at all, I only do it for the visual effect and

for what is most amazing for me and the contrast between the streets and the

tie. It is nothing against Japan or Japanese society. I really respect the country I

live in and its history.

At least I have to say that I am searching for special people for my photos on

the streets while riding my bicycle, not the „normal“ guy. I do select the people

I photograph. I do not have a picture in my mind when I go out, but when I see

the man I know if I really want this. I photographed „Stay Still“ for almost one

year now, I still shoot some pictures for the series some time and so far I picked

about 20 pictures out of them from the series.

With my bicycle I can reach more places in one night. The best time for taking

the photographs is between 1 a.m. And 4 a.m..

 

PEB: Thank you...

 


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