Today we’re joined by Malgorzata. Malgorzata is another first for Asexual Artists: she’s a cinematographer. She has a unique insight into the language of film, which makes for an absolutely fascinating interview. Cinematography in unique in that it’s both the technical side of art and the artistic kind. Cinematography is part of what allows the audience to get lost in the film. It brings the story on screen to life. Malgorzata is a phenomenal cinematographer, as you’ll soon discover. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I am a cinematographer, which basically means that I get to create the visual language of a story in a close collaboration with a director. It’s a great combination of artistic expression, understanding of emotions and technical knowledge about equipment and light.
Apart from that I still from time to time work on personal projects in photography, where I focus on human body, trying to catch those little moments of vulnerability and intimacy.
What inspires you?
I have a background in fine art, so majority of my inspiration comes from classical painters, especially Danish ones, like Hammershøi. But in the end everything visual can inspire me, whether is a photograph, a movie, or an observed moment from real life, when light was so exquisite and memorable that it just stays in your mind, waiting to be used, recreated.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I always laugh that I got into photography because I couldn’t draw so I started taking pictures in the need of trying to express myself. After I’ve finished my degree I got slightly bored with still picture and got into creating a moving one. The workflow in cinematography is so much different that being a photographer. You get to collaborate with great people, you are never alone, the artistic dialogue and spirit keeps you going. In the end we are trying to tell a story, whether it’s through sound, image or acting. It’s the working spirit of feeling alive on a set, that got me hooked. So, in the end, there was always something like a creative streak in me, that now I got to channel through working with other amazing creators.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?
My style and approach to the work usually depends on a story and how the director wants the portray it, but I have my little quirks, like an extensive usage of negative space and emptiness in a frame or an approach to shoot emotional moments in profile close-ups to give an audience a feeling of closeness, but still not to reveal too much, so the moment is not becoming overbearing. In photography I do a lot of artistic nudes/semi nudes but my subjects are never portrayed in a sexual way. Nudity through photography for me is completely asexual, a body becomes a geometrical play of shapes and shadows. It’s intimate, but never erotic.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Stay true to who you are. Don’t even change that. There will be people looking upon you, because you don’t fit into their limited universe, times that you might think it might be easier to change yourself or pretend. But never yield to that. Being yourself makes you special and that’s what uniquely is represented in your work making it honest and real.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I identify as a Gray-A. Sometimes I can overthink who I am in the need of trying to fit in or understand, and it’s OK. Being slightly confused and searching is somehow a natural state and I’ve learnt to accept that.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
In general film industry is a tough environment for women especially in camera or other technical departments, mostly because it’s still considered as an ‘alpha male’ job. Adding being ace to that sometimes feeling like an overkill. Because of that working in my field my sexuality usually doesn’t come up, I don’t feel the need to share it. But when it does come up it’s met with massive ignorance. But mainly on the same level that in other aspects of my life.
They only extremely negative experience I have ever had was not coming from fellow crew members but from a subject of a documentary I’m working on. Irony of this encounter is that we are in the middle of shooting a documentary about prejudice against sexual minorities in a seemingly accepting and liberal country like Denmark and my own sexuality came up in an offscreen conversation with a married, gay man who is a drag queen, so he represents a variety of minorities himself. I was met with highly judgmental approach, ignorance and prejudice. Starting from the fact that he (and other drag queens that joined) had no idea that asexuality even existed(!) to the borderline offensive comments (when I tried to explain what it means) that he can “sacrifice” himself and fuck me, so I will know what it feels like, because he couldn’t imagine being able to live without sex, ending with the note that he might accept who I am, but he can’t respect that. Irony of that whole evening hit me so hard that I still can’t process what happened. Here I am, working to give a minority a voice, to reveal that acceptance doesn’t meet respect and I am facing the same prejudice form a fellow LGBT+ member. If they don’t understand, than who will?
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
“But you are not repressed!”, “But you had girlfriends/boyfriends!”, “You are just getting through a phase, because you haven’t met anyone special yet.” Probably three the most common reactions I’ve heard. If I had a dollar for every disbelieving reaction that I’ve encountered over the past two years, I would be financially set up for life.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
Don’t let other people get into your head that who you feel you are is not true. I’ve been struggling with the disbelief from even the closest friends for I while now and I’ve learnt that even as much as it hurts me, I have to ignore that. Because I know myself and what I feel, how I see the world, the best and there is no one know has a ground to say it’s wrong or different. They don’t live in my head or in my heart.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
For the films I have been working on, they are circulating around festivals in Europe, that’s why it’s impossible to publish them online before two years mark (weird rules). Hopefully one day you will stumble in the cinema and see my name in the credits (haha).
But in general I have a website with samples of my work, that I use as a portfolio.
Thank you, Malgorzata, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.