The Eye of the Traveler - EU・ジャパンフェスト日本委員会

The Eye of the Traveler

Mikiko Kikuta|photography project artistic director

A coffee shop visited casually, people met along the road, the view from the hotel window or that evening’s meal. There are no dramatic events to be found in the photographs of Agnieszka Wolodzko. More than a few are out of focus or suffer from too much light. In others, it’s simply hard to tell what the subject might have been. Anyone seeking to extract some meaning from each and every one would soon be dumbfounded. Wolodzko’s purpose is not the reproduction of beautiful scenery through the application of technique, but for herself to make a journey. And so anything she might encounter while moving through unknown territory is liable to become a subject of her work. Where the focus is blurred, this is due to the swaying of a moving train or car, or because she photographs people walking or working without regard to her. There is no time to wait for the weather, she is already heading for her next destination.
While Wolodzko’s work is a journal of her travels recorded in photographs, it lacks the lyricism one associates with travel and is characterized rather by a plainly disinterested composition. Being a visitor, she has no way of understanding all that she finds around her. There is, of course, something mendacious that dogs “understanding” per se. A long-term resident, for example, may in the end lose objectivity in the tangles of a region’s received wisdom or those of her own convictions. Placing herself in the non-routine circumstances of travel, Wolodzko takes genuine pleasure in what she comes across and assumes always the stance of one passing through. To her, in short, both the landmark scenery and the children playing in a park are “equal”, in the sense that each is a scene that she encountered on her journey. I rather think it is precisely this eye of the traveler that elicits the figure of another Yamagata, another Oita rather than some stereotype of either.
This project, titled “Body on the Move” as an expression of travel in itself, is already underway from China to Siberia, Finland and Rumania. Why do such a thing? Wolodzko says the question sometimes crosses her mind. She knows also that there may be no clear answer to it. And that is precisely why the project continues. She sets out with her camera and a tremendous amount of film stuffed into a bag. There is no getting started unless she presses herself on and undergoes the experience of sensing for herself, seeing with her own eyes and creating her work. Viewing her work, we too experience her journey vicariously. While what shows in these photographs is what was present at that time in that place, the photographs are also evidence that she was in that place at that time. With repeated viewing, they vividly evoke the image of Wolodzko walking through these places, stopping, pressing the shutter.



Mikiko Kikuta, photography project artistic director