Ostblick: Paweł Kocan

Möglichkeiten gibt es überall. Wenn man gewillt ist kreativ zu sein, dann ist es egal wo man herkommt. Das jedenfalls ist die Einstellung einer neuen Generation von Künstlern aus dem Osten, die, statt sich der äußeren Umstände geschlagen zu geben, genau dort Inspiration finden. Paweł Kocan ist so ein Künstler. Der Fotograf und Filmer lebt und arbeitet in Warschau, ist aufgewachsen in Rzeszów im Südosten Polens. Nachdem er unser Go East Shooting in Warschau mit seiner Videokamera begleitete, zeigt er für dieses Interview seine persönlichen Fotofavoriten – seinen Ostblick.

Der Ostblock war der jahrelange Gegenspieler zur westlichen Welt, auf der anderen Seite des eisernen Vorhangs. Durch die Linse unserer Ostfotografen werfen wir einen Blick auf ihre Heimatorte, alte Jugendzimmer und neue Idole, alles östlich der deutsch-polnischen Grenze – ein Ostblick.

Achtung Digital: Since the first issue of Achtung, we have looked to the east. We feel that should be done more often. What can the West learn from the East?

Pawel Kocan: That’s a tough one. Maybe this? Please dear West do never allow only one party/president to rule the whole country. 

AD: What is the first image that comes to your mind when you think of your country?

PK: Last year I’ve seen an exhibition of collages by young polish artist Alicja Biała. Her project POLSKA perfectly captures what comes to my mind when I think about Poland. 

AD: What is the biggest difference you notice when you travel from Eastern to Western Europe?

PK: I think that people of the east are really resourceful. They always count on themselves. Also I would say that they can quickly adapt to the circumstances they happen to be in. But on the other hand I really like that in the west, people seem less worried and chilled. They seem to have it all figured out. 

Pawel Kocan lebt und arbeitet in Warschau, aufgewachsen ist er in Rzeszów im Südosten Polens.

AD: What opportunities does your home country offer you in photography?

PK: Opportunities are everywhere, doesn’t matter where you are at. Willingness to do, to create, to cooperate, to share is crucial to make a difference and to come up with new ideas and opportunities. As I’m getting older I understand that we are creating the world that surrounds us. So it’s up to us what we want to achieve. 

AD: Is photography political?

PK: Photography has always been a medium which made a big impact in the history. Now more than ever we are living in a world in which we communicate with each other through images. But we always have to keep in mind that photography never tells the actual truth. Ultimately we can use images to create narratives and manipulate and that is a powerful tool, also in politics. 

AD: Which photographer from your home country inspires you the most?

PK: I absolutely admire stuff of my great friend Łukasz Jasiukowicz whose work is very diverse and fresh. His approach is always honest and modest and this is why his art it so unique. It has this innocent intimacy of a boy with endless dreams. I definitely recommend to check his work out.

AD: Black and white or color?

PK: Definitely color. The world is so beautiful as it is. Also when it comes to post production. It is so impressive how color correction can bring the images to another level.  

Winterliches Porträt von Paweł Kocan.

AD: Your favorite place to be in your hometown?

PK: All the second hand stores. My hometown Rzeszów has plenty of thrift shops and each time I’m there I stack with clothes, cameras or some old records. 

AD: If your city would be a piece of clothing, what would it be?

PK: A face mask.

AD: The late effects of communism are often summarized like this: There was nothing, everything had to be improvised. Is this a matter of course and therefore perhaps not such a high priority for you, or did this lack and its consequences actually shape your work? 

PK: Post communistic Poland in which I grew up definitely shaped me as a human being and it has influenced my work. But never in my life I felt a lack of something. 

AD: During the Soviet Union, pictures had to be smuggled from East to West through “the iron curtain”. Even though this curtain has long since fallen, how difficult is it for young creatives to cross these borders and to get international attention?

PK: Nowadays with the Internet there are no boundaries. I believe that great passion, hard work and determination can take you where you want to be. 

Tischfußball von Paweł Kocan.

AD: What do you want to move as a photographer abroad and in your homeland?

PK: In my work I’m trying to rewake the reality. Seemingly similar to what we all know but different. I mainly look for inspirations in daily life, childhood memories, conversations or observations. 

AD: Is there any other city/country that you aspire to live in sometime?

PK: Maybe Berlin. But to be honest Warsaw is a great place to live in. There is such a great vibe here!