Once upon a time...
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Photographers Without Boarders
"Tell us why you want to attend PWB School?" - This question burned in me for several months, pushing me into a writer's block type of procrastination. Why do I want to go? Why do I feel so strongly that I should go? Why me and not someone else? Who do I think I am? Really...
What can I really offer?
But months turned into days and days into hours. It is now 8:08 pm on the evening of August 29, and I have to work early tomorrow, so this is it - the deadline has now really arrived. I have been looking at this, for what it feels like an eternity. Pressed by time, I reluctantly ignore my fear and just write.
I guess I will start at the beginning:
As a little kid who grew up with the looming omnipresence of the “big brother” of the east-european communist block, I found refuge from the all the grey and harsh adult life, in the most mundane, yet abundantly available beauty of my ever decaying environment.
Cracks in the wall revealing layers of previous colors underneath, pigeons landing on rooftops forming neat patterns, and bare autumn trees reflecting in puddles like veins in cracked mirrors. Such a rich kaleidoscope of shapes, textures and wonders to lose oneself into... And that’s just what I did. I would get lost in it. This was art. This was the art of life itself. This is how it all started. I didn’t know it at the time, but that very escaping into being really present with the imagery in my immediate environment, and the incredible peacefulness that it brought with it, was the very seed that later would turn into reflection and photography. This would later become my “way out”.
I didn’t think of it much at the time, but years later I realized that this lucky combination of witnessing so much suffering and hiding in the silence of these ordinary and beautiful things, gave me some amazing gifts; For starters, I got to observe and understand how the individual lives of those around me were in huge part the direct by-product of their “birth place and time”. Teachings passed on by generations of parents, educational systems, religious traditions, social, economic, cultural and political systems. Effects of war, classicism, sexism, racism, ageism, favouritism,, homophobia, industry, consumerism, manipulation of media, censorship, Chernobyl, the ripping pain of having to compete against one’s kin for survival... Bribes. Lies. Bureaucracy, power... all of this on the still fresh backdrop of the lingering post Auschwitz and world war two. These are the things that largely determined which doors of possibility would open, and which would stay closed, and who they would open for. This was Warsaw, Poland of the 1980s.
Later, after my family immigrated, although some of these painful lessons continued in new contexts, my appreciation of human suffering as a universal phenomenon also deepened. I got to see more clearly the intricate connections between money, health, trauma, education, agriculture, manufacturing and environment just to name a few. Like a jigsaw puzzle, the currents of cause and effect and independence. All connected. If we are to survive and thrive here on this amazing earth, we must transform it. Not by forcing others to change, but by our own example, by our own love. This kind of love unites and inspires, it makes miracles possible. It is contagious. This is the kind of love I see when I read thorough the pages of the Sambhali Trust - A perfect example of one man igniting others with his passion, a life of action which now touched thousands of lives. Or the girls from the scholarship program, who after learning want to help others in turn by becoming teachers themselves. This is the kind of love I feel when I hear of OIC volunteers, who risk their lives with possible confrontation in order to save their beloved land and its inhabitants, or tirelessly seedling trees, braking their backs for hours on end in the heat.
My heart is not yet as opened as these amazing people, and I have yet very far to go. Although I have contributed here and there, volunteering, organizing, and also trying to find work in non-profit/more meaningful organizations, for the most part daily struggle often leaves me forgetting just how incredible privileged I am. But I want to do more. I want to be more. I want to learn how to love more, which doesn’t always come easily to me. I was so, so lucky to be given the opportunity in a way of photography. Although I am still in the learning stage, I can truly say it is saving my life, little by little. I would guess the same goes for these initiatives; I can see the potential of these smiling girls, learning to read and write, while getting a new kind of family... I can see the possible opportunities for the women who gain new sowing skills and new sowing machines! I know first hand how rewarding it is to be your own boss even if it is just a small project at first. I can see how planting of tree seedlings can help transform land back to its original ecosystem, like pieces of puzzle little by little restoring a larger scene, one with bright, content, orange orangutans.
So why do I want to attend PWB School? I want each and every life touched by these projects to be able to tell its own story. Not a story of suffering, but a story of possibility. Not a story of struggle, but a story of everyday ordinary, magical beauty. Not a story of predeterminism, but one of freedom. A story of success, of love and of joy. And I want to be lucky enough to help transport those stories from them to you, and in the process transform my own.
In 2016, I was asked to submit an artist bio for one of my exhibitions, describing the my artistic process for my photography based work. The exhibition itself was a juried group show called "bio-woman". I knew that the jurors would be considering what I write in the biography to help them determine whether or not to select my installation into the show. This is what I ended up writing:
Or bio logy?
A graph line,
a time line,
events in sequence forming a life story…
Oh, all the glory!
Or is it the logy?
Like a bio-lodge body.
In which I rest.
Is this a test?
What u c when u look at me is a reflection of your projection.
someone else’s borrowed lessons…
yes mine, mine, mine, mine!
That’s all fine.
But where am i?
u point at me
and when u do,
what do u c?
“my” art is an expression of the outmost elation
an energy in motion combining into e/motion
from it 2 me 2 u.
It is beyond the personal,
free from the bondage of space-‐time dimension
not having to belong to socialization
My art isn’t mine; as I can not my self define.
Remove the removable.
Define the divine; isn’t that a pickle!
Through the looking glass,
via my viewfinder,
life’s highest intensity being presents itself.
I hold my breath…
Beyond the thoughts,
this indescribable sensation!
Spacious awareness without conceptualization.
The filter removed.
Life is an art - process
through which I disappear onto all that the I can c n b.
Infinity of wonder,
still sequences of moment to moment flowing present unfolding.
i c - gull gliding through love..
a - maze - (through which I run and capture what is already) - ment.
Life at its fullest ordinary miracle.
but rather a quiet whispering uprising.
My beloved wave.
i am clear water.
Eye imprint through what i c.
a gift of life through u 4 me
Photographers Without Boarders
Gate Real Estate Inc.
Kisson & Associates
Barristers & Solicitors
Michael Roy Group
Unlocking Toronto Campaign
Jan Woodlands Inc.
Manufacture & Wholesale
Climate Crisis Anthem
& Private Commissions
Aboard the Silent Dreamer