Krzysztof Candrowicz Interview

“Chasing After Too Many Things Will Leave You Lost and Tired” – In Conversation with Krzysztof Candrowicz

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It was a strangely sunny day that day.

Prior to this day what I’ve known of Poland was rain, Piotrkowska, and clouds. Either way, to start this accordingly, Łódź is an immensely charismatic city – with its mixture of local and foreign energy gracing the main, 5-kilometer long street, you can get lost in the old + new vibe of the town.

Krzysztof Candrowicz InterviewPhotography: Nikola Ilievski

I was lucky enough to get to spend two months in Łódź. After meeting an overwhelmingly amazing amount of inspiring people, volunteering for a local event as well as a local photography festival, which was where I got to meet our topic of conversation, I can say that I left enriched with as much experience as you could possibly imagine.

Speaking of the topic of conversation, during my stay me and Lidija Ferencak, a Croatia based artist had the opportunity of sitting down and getting to speak with Krzysztof Candrowicz, one of the town’s better-known faces.

With a broad history of being an international curator, art director, researcher and educator, and with his warm, inviting energy, not only did we enjoy our time spent asking our questions, we also learned a lot too.

Krzysztof Candrowicz InterviewPhotography: Nikola Ilievski

The more we as people have the privilege to meet with and have conversations with shapeshifters like Krzysztof, the more experienced we will be as human beings and the more we will learn about ourselves, our environment and the world in general.

The following is a transcription of the conversation the three of us had a month or so ago.

What influenced you to involve yourself in the world of visual arts the most?

“I guess it was about photography that is kind of transparent, but it brings memories and is dealing with the past. There was a moment in my life where I was really interested in the past and how time flies, so photography was kind of like a time machine for me.

I was basically interested in this phenomenon of how human beings feel the need to talk about the past all the time; because you know life is always ahead and you’re living in the moment, but photography and family pictures and all of those things bring you back all the time and we are always talking about memories.

I was so interested in this psychological aspect of photography that brought me in visual arts in the end.”

What is your biggest drive as a curator?

“I guess a curator is a person who is not really needed if you have a well organized and conscious artist. But if you want to create broader stories and work on collective exhibitions, and if you want to use certain artworks to create much more advanced stories, that’s when a curator is needed, because they can help the artist work on that more efficiently.

A curator is basically a person who selects the best works from an artist that is most intriguing.

And about my biggest drive, I would say that It’s working with so many people (artists) that are living and functioning outside the box. They don’t obey the rules, in fact, they create their own. They use their own imagination.

What Einstein once said, it may be really cliché nowadays but “Imagination is much more important than knowledge”.”

Krzysztof Candrowicz InterviewPhotography: Nikola Ilievski

In 2012, you were chosen to be part of the program “40 under 40” in Europe that promotes top European leaders and intellectuals. What does this mean to you looking back now?

“Honestly, a big part of the program was superficial, because it was EU related and we were going to these very official meetings with the members of the EU Parliament.

I wasn’t really fascinated with that part, but I actually got to meet some amazing people. Amongst those 40 leaders there were people like the founder of Skype, NGOs, people working with refugees, people from art and culture.

It was amazing; we were so different yet able to find a common language which was the best for me.”

According to you, what are the biggest challenges artists get to face nowadays?

“Actually, the biggest challenges artists face nowadays are the ones regarding how to pay the bills, how to survive the next month.

I’m taking part in these portfolio reviews very often. I look at the work of hundreds of artists every year and I always ask them “How do you manage your life? How do you survive?”.

I would say that 95 percent of them have some other source of income or they come from a family with a wealthy background. The other 5 percent are lucky enough to actually sell their work.

The way society is created is to actually dismiss the need for artists, which makes this market really challenging. It’s almost impossible for everyone to share all of their ideas and concepts.”

During TEDxWarsaw in 2013, you said you can never be too old to dream and to create. Have you experienced certain life lessons that taught you this philosophy?

“Oh, that was many years ago so I really don’t remember what I exactly said. But, during that time I was really a huge workaholic. I was working as a cultural curator, animator, and art director. I was working as a director (Art_Inkubator) at this place as well.

But I left all of my heavy, time-consuming jobs. That was my biggest life lesson, just to follow your dreams but not the ones that cost too much. I thought I could do everything but it’s just not true.

You have to have your personal life in mind. Sometimes we’re in this matrix and we have this drive, but in the end, after 15 years of being a director of this and that festival, I asked myself the question, ‘Who Am I?’.

There was no me, there was just me with all of these social covers around, but I still couldn’t answer this question – ‘Who Am I?’.

That’s why I took seven months off to just do some traveling.  I went to Central America, Nepal, India, just to try to connect with myself and be by myself without all of these social roles.

After 38 years, I kind of discovered who I am. It’s okay to come back to your old life after isolating for a little bit, but it’s important to know that you could do everything differently.

I came back to my old life too but I changed the approach of how I do things. Now I do everything with pleasure – I have no shifts and I have completely changed the way I live my life.  I wake up every morning and I decide what I want to do.

I live a free and easy life where I have space for myself. This is not egotistical. You can’t be there for others if you yourself are fucked up. You don’t even have to travel, that’s the easiest thing to do, you can just close yourself in your room and create the space for yourself that you need from there.

During my travels, I even met 60-year-old people who also realized that their life is going all wrong, so they decided to go on a journey just like I did. For example, I met this 70-year-old Dutch woman who discovered she wants to be a surfer after working an office job in Amsterdam for decades.

She moved to Guatemala and goes out surfing every day, and after that, she goes to schools to teach English to the youth. She told me that she asked herself why did she waste all that time in an office when she was a natural-born surfer.

This shows that it’s never too late to get yourself back on track.”

Krzysztof Candrowicz InterviewPhotography: Nikola Ilievski

What do you look for in a still? What awakens a feeling within?

“I guess for me it’s a moment of reflection because you can hold time in your hands, all thanks to a photograph. Life doesn’t give you the space you need in order to reflect, but if you take a picture you can freeze time and use it to meditate.”

  Pretty repetitive question, but always the more important one. What is your message to every artist, regardless of their age group or background who wants to spread their message across the world?

“Actually, this is the main issue I work on with photographers and other artists. I always ask about their motivation and the reason behind why they start all of their projects.

When you know why, the rest comes smoothly, but the philosophical question why is really important to be able to answer.

So many people are doing these A, B, and C projects, but when you ask them why and what does it mean, they don’t know what to say.

It can also be a form of therapy, but if you want to share your photography and have exhibitions make sure to share your work with your friends first and learn how to share what you do. But you don’t have to do this, because your work can be intimate and also therapy for you. This is why it’s important to ask yourselves ‘why’ more often.”

More about Krzysztof:
Triennial Of Photography Hamburg
International Festival of Photography in Łódź

More about Lidija:
Instagram