The Creative Process is collaborating with film schools and universities on intensive workshops and 4th-year courses combining film and literature. Multi-disciplinary artist Bronka Nowicka is directing one such program at Łódź Film School, and we are honored to showcase the imaginative works of their students and faculty.
“We have been inspired by The Creative Process to implement
a special 4th-year course dedicated to combining literature and film,
and making adaptations of notable Polish writers’ work.
Polish films were always very closely related to literature,
especially in the Polish Film School of the 50’s and 60’s.
The best Polish films were made at those times and most were based
on literature. It did change recently and here in Łódź Film School
we’ve been thinking of how to restore this relationship. That’s why we
are delighted to collaborate with your project and for
the opportunities to screen the films created by this program
at international venues associated with The Creative Process.”
–PIOTR MIKUCKI (Dean of Directing Department)
& MARCIN MALATYŃSKI (Deputy Director and Head of International Relations)
Łódź Film School
Can you tell us a little about your artistic background? Apart from film, what mediums have you worked in?
My name is Bronka Nowicka. I graduated from the Film, Theatre and TV Direction Department at the Polish State Film School in Łódź, and from the Faculty of Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow. I received my diploma at the Film School in 2004 and in 2011 I received my diploma at the Interdisciplinary Studio I, Academy of Fine Arts.
As early as during my studies at the Film School, my interests focused on the relations between people and things. In the films and film études that I directed the thing was not an actors’ stage prop but an equal character. It underwent personification, it symbolized or embodied the dead, it brought back memories. This was the case both with the film Tristis, awarded the grand prix at the International Film School Festival in Bologna and a distinction at the International Film School Festival in Munich, and the graduation film Mantra, awarded, interalia, for the best graduation film screenplay.
After graduation, I started to work at the theater. All the plays directed by me included subplots connected with the thing: a consumerist addiction to it or getting into relationships with it; relationships that substituted interpersonal ones.
In some of your work objects sometime become more than things? They come to personify a story.
After that period my work began to focus on photography and video. I created cycles of works where things served to portray their owners, as in A Self-portrait in the Thing and Word, or were used as peculiar timepieces, as in the cycle The Calendar.
I also started to use the thing as a medium for documenting events, including meetings with other people. Dried, used teabags, marked with notes about dates, times of the day and events connected with the act of drinking tea constitute a peculiar diary. Used teabags, deprived of dregs and filled with photographs of people with whom I had tea, became an aestheticizing record of the meetings. The work People I Have Drunk Tea With was being created in the course of one year.
At the beginning of my Ph.D. studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow I started a para-research project connected with various relations between people and things.
I have documented several hundred stories about human-thing relations. I have met a number of people at various ages, representing various backgrounds and points of view.
This resulted in an archive containing photographs of things and recorded conversations and monologs that give an account of the relations between the owners and their things.
What touches me, hurts me, interests me about the thing? I can assume that every single thing undergoes anthropomorphization or personification to a smaller or larger extent. It means that the world of things is a theater which reflects the world of what is human. I am interested in the human – I want my creations to be about it. However, I choose the thing as the main character of my works. Why?
Yes, this is what I find intriguing about your work. There is sadness, meaning, and symbolism underpinning objects when we look closely at them. As a painter too, this is something I think about a lot. Often you find the true focus of a portrait is not the sitter themselves, but an object or possession which defines them...
The feeling of tragedy evoked by images of things tends to be equally overwhelming, or even more so than the one that manifests itself directly through the human fate and the mortal body. The tragic nature of the thing seems to consist in the fact that it prolongs somebody’s or something’s life only several steps. A thing that outlives its owner and becomes his representative, as well as a thing that commemorates the bygone in another way, finally dies.
However, before the matter deteriorates and falls apart, it ‘remembers’, symbolizes, embodies. By talking about the spiritual through the material, about the alive through the dead, by treating the thing as a character that is present in the matter of the work of art more frequently than the human being – an equal character, I can talk about him without the pathos that results from direct representations.
Your recent work uses medical technology to examine the process of memory...
Three years ago I started to search for a method of imaging what was interesting for me – the way from matter to memory. I was looking for a medium capable of documenting things, proving – in the most reliable way – their existence, shape, kind of matter, texture, color; a medium that could reach deeper than photography or video recording. That is why I decided to subject a group of objects, which were condemned to annihilation, to an X-ray examination in a CT scanner. The scanned objects were: everyday articles, old toys, things that belonged to deceased relatives: their bags, suitcases, shoes, sacks with clothes.
In order to be able to obtain and process the images of the scanned objects on my own, I participated in training at the Department of Radiology at the Jagiellonian University Medical College. There I gained access to a CT scanner by courtesy of Professor Andrzej Urbanik, a staff radiologist and head of the department. My knowledge allows me to arrange shots consciously and to create image poetics so that it is in keeping with the themes of individual works – films, video installations.
The software that goes with the CT scanner makes it possible to obtain a 3D reconstruction of the scanned object from each master scan of organic and inorganic matter. The images testify not only to the appearance of things, but also to the authenticity of their existence proved by a test with a medical device. X-rays pass through matter. The penetrating potential of the device makes it possible to stratify every image of matter. The possibility to remove subsequent layers from the image allowed me to form associations connected with memory, for example, the deterioration of recollections and the slow process of forgetting.
The CT scanner software has numerous functions applied for diagnosing particular body parts. By using these functions to shape images of inorganic matter, I could obtain various image poetics: from ones having associations with hyperrealistic drawings to ephemeral ones, reminding the fleeting, thus also the recollection too.
The chances for imaging the way of the thing from matter to memory became greater when I learnt about the filmmaking potential of a CT scanner, which is used in medical diagnosis only sporadically and for purposes other than constructing a narrative. The CT scanner makes it possible to obtain moving images of the scanned matter: to record their fluid movement around any axis, to remove and superimpose individual layers that correspond to the layers of the scanned object. Some operations that are possible to do within the scan resemble film production operations: tracking in towards an object, using the zoom, sliding together with a moving object, horizontal, vertical and side panning, recording the objects with boom shots and steadicam shots.
By learning about the potential of a CT scanner I have discovered a new medium in the area of video art, and a poetics that is appropriate for spinning a narrative about going from the material to the recollected.
Bronka Nowicka graduated from the Film, Theatre and TV Direction Department at the Polish State Film School in Łódź, and from the Faculty of Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, where she now is a PhD student. Her fields of inspiration, exploration, and creation include human-thing relations, images in motion, language, encounters. She is looking for new media in the field of art; she uses a computer tomography scanner as a film and graphic tool.
She creates videos, tomo-videos, video installations, photographs. She took part in exhibitions at the International Centre for Graphic Arts in Kraków, the Susanne Burmester Gallery in Germany (in Putbus, on the Rügen Island), the Małopolska Garden of Art in Kraków, the Promotional Gallery at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, the Fine Arts College in Kazimierz Dolny, the Art Centre in Sosnowiec, the Ducal Castle in Szczecin, the Media Art Faculty Gallery in Warsaw, the Kunstnernes Hus during the Festival for Digital and Visual Poetry in Norway (Oslo), The Trubarjeva Hiša Literature in Slovenia (Ljubljana). She participated in the international literary festivals, including Prima Vista (Tartu, Estonia), Kosmopolis (Barcelona, Spain), Slovenian Book Days (Ljubljana, Slovenia), Festival of the European Short Story (Zagreb – Rijeka, Croatia). She took part in interdisciplinary artistic projects, interalia Corresponcences & Interventions, Open Studio of Mechanisms for an Entente, Labirynt Wolności (the Labirynth of Freedom); interdisciplinary scientific conferences, eg. “Posttechnological experiences. Art-Science-Culture” at the HAT Centre (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań). She is the author of publications on new means of narration in the field of video art (e.g. in Załącznik Kulturoznawczy, Wiadomości ASP). She is the director of theatrical plays (e.g. “Shining City” – Studio Theatre in Warsaw, “Look, The Sun Is Going Down” – the Adam Mickiewicz Theatre in Częstochowa and the Na Woli Theatre in Warsaw, “Theatre de compose ou I'homme belle” – the Jaracz Theatre in Olsztyn, “Far Away” – TVP Kultura). She is a screenwriter and director of television programs: educational and travel series. In 2015 the Biuro Literackie publishing house published her poetic book “Nakarmić kamień” (“To Feed a Stone”) that was awarded the third prize in the competition Złoty Środek Poezji (The Golden Mean of Poetry) as the best poetic debut, and the prestigious Literary Nike Award for the best book of the year. From 2017 Bronka Nowicka is one of New Voices from Europe – the project implemented by Literature Across Frontiers and European Platform for Literary Exchange, Translation and Policy Debate.