Julia Mercedes Dąbrowska
Julia Mercedes Dąbrowska is a 22-year-old Polish photographer whose most distinguishing shots are characterized by cold colors and nocturnal atmospheres.
I had the opportunity to speak directly with her about her artistic vision and this is the report of our chat:
Why are there often livid colors like purple and green in your photos?
This mostly depends on the environment because I really like walking at night and discovering places that usually don’t seem special during the day, but which, in the dark, light up and have a different atmosphere.
I have always been very inspired by cinema and by the idea that everything is different at night, that colors make everything more intimate.
It is true, the colors simply depend on the place I find; however, it’s then important the interpretation I want to give them.
For example, I took many photos of gas stations, but the one with blue and yellow lights is my favourite for what it transmits: humans go to gas stations at night, when they are tired, when there is silence.
This creates a great enigma and, during a trip with my friends, seeing them walking, I thought I wanted to make it clear that one is going and one is returning, a bit like the cycle of life. And this, combined with the colors, gave a strong emotional contrast.
In addition to the feeling of desolation and loneliness, I also perceived the alienation of life in the city and a suspended, waiting atmosphere.
Is that what you wanted to convey?
Absolutely yes! I like to leave photos open to the interpretation of the person who looks at them because, by deciding the shot, I can only bring others closer to what I felt and somehow initiate their individual perceptions.
Surely, one aspect I wanted to convey was silence. That’s the word that immediately comes to mind.
I don’t mean it as a nightmare, a pain, or a desolation, but it still remains something we are no longer used to. Especially in Rome, where I now study, there’s no silence even at night!
The same concept is applied to shots with hands on glass.
At that time, I was very inspired by horror, and this was certainly helpful to give an emotion, not so much a fright, but a strong image that is not seen in everyday life.
We talked about colors, but light is perhaps even more important in your shots.
Can you tell me something about it?
I was encouraged to give a lot of importance to light in photos, after reading an interview with Giuseppe Lanci (the artistic director of the Cinematographic Photography course at the Experimental Centre of Cinematography) in which he defined light as an emotion; and for me it is very true because photography, already from the term, means ‘writing of light’.
So, light is essential because it transmits true illumination in the meaning of emphasizing something: for example, a face, a background, a symbol.
I saw that among the works you indicate as your inspiration sources, there were many that had to do with the role of light. For example, Elizaveta Porodina or Miles Johnston (who, by the way, is not a photographer but an illustrator).
He is one of my greatest inspirations [I even tattooed a drawing of him on my arm] because he makes the images not so much dreamlike but fantastic.
This is Magic Realism which, for me, is how photography should be in general because we don’t want to build a fantasy world where everything is unreal, but we want to be able to relate to it.
It is not necessary to understand and interpret everything, but only to perceive it.
It is pure art, it is itself a language: it is tactile, it is emotional. And that’s how I want to make my photos.
Photo courtesy by Julia Mercedes Dąbrowska