From behind her pc in Amsterdam, Spanish journalist Marta Serrano talks with the Mexico settled Dutch photographer Michel Szulc-Krzyzanowski about his recent project The most beautiful people in the world.
After reading your words about your own work, one feel as if a sacred moment is about to happen: where individual, nature and lens join in unison to be lead down a path of visual sensations. Is that also how you feel and how you put yourself in your project ?
“I have neither particular intentions nor ambitions towards the audience. My attitude in my work is to do only what I feel I must do. There is a strong connection with my inner-voice, my intuition, my emotions, my sincerity and my spirituality and I blindly follow them. If I learn people respond to my work like you do, I get a sensation of synchronization. That of waters finding their level.”
I believe it is very important for you to first get isolated to be able to focus and concentrate on what you are going to be confronted with afterwards, once you are in front of your subject. Does it work the same way with nature and people?
“Because I work from how I feel, from a connection with my intuition, following hints from my soul, I use methods learned from meditation techniques. To turn inwards from which to turn outwards. However, with nature it is a process of reflection: aspects of nature inspiring my creativity. With people it becomes a process of interaction.”
How do you pick the subjects for your current project? After they have responded to your newspaper ad?
“There is a method I call ‘reading people’, which eventually is the fact that the person responds to the announcement I have published. Second, I study the letter and the pictures they send carefully. Every little aspect is a message about the person. When I visit them I am at a high level of awareness. Everything tells something. What is the house like that they live in? What objects do they have in their living room? Are they looking me in the eyes when we meet and speak? To read the person even better, I open up myself. By being honest - I have nothing to hide. I am there not for commercial reasons... My attitude is relaxed. This way an intense relationship is usually established quite quickly. The whole interviewing process takes a few hours during which no pictures are taken. Often my team and I spend the majority of the day with only one person and their family.”
What about the blue fabric behind them?
“I carry this blue fabric with me and have it behind every person. This unites all the images. It is like a recurring beat. And sometimes I can have it play an extra role to emphasize something.” Is balance the right word to explain the existence of your images -balance between you and your subjects, between your inner life and the out coming, between reality and sub consciousness? “Yes, it is a balance that you can see from the faces of the people in the images. And afterwards, it is a balance between the image I took and the perception of the viewer. This is very important to me because for me photography is a medium of communication. My ambition is that my images can always be understood. I study a lot how people perceive images, how they read them. Balance between two persons can only be achieved in case the land on which they both stand is solid... This solidity is achieved by the quality of the communication aspect of the image.”
Are you trying to tell something with this project?
“I am not trying anything... It is up to the spectators to have thoughts and feelings when they see the project The most beautiful people in the world. To have success or not is not the issue. However, until now this project has created an enormous response. My speculation is that people are rather fed up with many things in our reality. There is a lot of negativity around us. This project gives us reasons to be optimistic, to feel happy, to feel loved, to love and to share. These are all opportunities that are rarely presented to us and that are not very often pursued by artists and photographers. Most of them are out to shock with negativity, are caught up in their own private obsessions or are only after personal fame. The project The most beautiful people in the world is not more than a frame. And it is the people who respond and present themselves, and the people who experience the results of the project, who are in fact the project, and they create the beauty.”
See the featured portfolio here!