5 young photographers pushing the bounds of ‘feminine beauty’
Magdalena J. Wiitchen—Royal College of Art, UK
When Magdalena Wittchen immigrated from Poland to the UK, she began life on her own. “I pretty much lived by myself since I was 15,” explained the artist. “And it was hard, of course, but I grew up very quickly.” Now a recent MA graduate of London’s Royal College of Art, Wittchen examines the ways in which people move through, and walk unexamined through, the streets.
“I use photography kind of against itself,” said the artist in Arles. “I shoot in a low light situation. I also shoot outside on the streets at night or after the sun goes down. I don’t use models. I’ve tried. I want to photograph people who don’t know that I’m photographing them. I focus on a color, on a movement, on the dynamics of the street, and on this idea that in any outside setting, people really focus on getting from A to B. We all kind of get very isolated.”
The result is distant, but striking, bringing about the emotions of disconnect and loneliness within the viewer. “I think I’m not finished with the urban and the street and with the strangers,” said Wittchen.
meet the London laureates of dior beauty’s photography prize
Dior have partnered with École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie, Arles on a photography prize that champions emerging talents. We meet two graduates of London's RCA about their nominated projects.
This year, the prize specifically focused on female photographers looking to bridge the gap and address the gender inequality that still plagues the fashion industry. “At Dior we can't forget that we are a daring brand,” Peter says. “The Art of Colour was a way to pay tribute but also show the world that we are not just masters in colour, strong concepts, in being creative. The idea was born... why not give a chance, a platform, to young talents. We're in this place where we're pushing for women because, at the root of the problem, there are not enough women.”
Magdalena Joanna Wittchen
When did you first start taking photos? I come from more of a fine art painting background, and I only started a photography course on the second year of my masters degree. I transferred from contemporary art practise. I did my Fine Art BA at Chelsea College of Art. I also did some sculpture.
Has the fine art and sculptural background shaped the way you take photographs? Oh yeah, I think the fact I joined photography kind of "later" and without having the basics of the use of the use of the camera initially, I had to catch up, especially when I joined the second year. It's definitely influenced by the painting and especially classical painting, Old Masters.
Can you talk a little about this project you’re exhibiting? I've been working on this project and these images since December, but the theme and the way I work has been kind of continuous. I took the angle of more of the feminine. The colours were already there and as a woman, photographing at night, so was the theme. I photograph mostly women.
Where did you shoot these images? This series is all shot in the same location, Holloway station. I don't use a tripod, I don't use a light, I don't use models, so I need to find a perfect location that's got the right background, with the right lighting and crowd, but allowing me to keep the distance. But I'm not hidden, I'm across the road, under the lantern, people just don't really look up. No one's ever come up to me. Sometimes people will look straight into the camera, but I never really had any problems.
How do you feel in that position, do you have a certain power? I love working at night, alone. To me London is the safest place in the world.I've always had this thing where sometimes the best part of the night when you walk home alone.
What do you hope to express through your photography? I mean, what do you see?