People and spaces create the essence of a city. Architecture, unusual places and objects, strange nooks, well-known paths, emotions, and memories. In PURO Q&A we ask inspiring artists, designers, and creators of the contemporary urban world about their ways of creating and experiencing cities.
This time we talk to Sonia Szóstak, a talented young-generation photographer equipped with a watchful eye and painterly sense of aesthetic–whose work we are proud to have on display at PURO Gdańsk–about journeys with a camera, cities on her way, and treasure-hunting.
You come from Szczecin, studied in Łódź, lived in Berlin, and now reside in Paris. What do these places mean to you?
Each of them is unique. Szczecin is where home and friends are - a favorite place I always come back to. Łódź was my first home away from home. I was surrounded with talented people, gained a degree, and collected tons of experiences. Berlin, always close to the hearts of Szczecin residents, turned out to be a safe haven when I tried to figure out which way to choose after graduation. On top of that, Paris is a place where I can fully develop and foster my passions and skills – something I’ve always dreamt about.
What would you call your greatest city discovery? A tiny shop around the corner, night club, hidden workspace?
I’ve discovered and cherish loads of secret places in Paris: my favorite bookstores with art albums, flea markets, small jazz clubs, tiny galleries with old photographs or homelike, family-owned restaurants open once in a blue moon, so you have to call them and ask about dates to book a table. Paris is full of big little discoveries.
How do you feed you eyes? Is there anything in particular you like looking at?
I love art. I go to every possible exhibition wherever I am. I also love albums about photography and good-quality magazines–always filled with inspiration.
Which sense, apart from sight, would you consider most valuable?
Hearing. I am a total maniac when it comes to music and wouldn’t survive a day without it.
You have an appetite for…
Japan! It’s so fascinating but I’ve never been there. I love Japanese cuisine, but I’ve never tried it in its native context. That’s why I have an real appetite for a first-hand Japan experience.
You travel around the world with your camera. What is it that makes you want to travel and discover the world?
It’s simple – an insatiable curiosity about the world. I’ve traveled a lot since I was a child and I think travelling is the best way for a person to grow, experience, and be inspired.
How does discovering places through a camera lens differ from doing it with the naked eye? If you want to experience something, do you always take a picture of it?
I don’t. I don’t have to. I like living in the moment without a camera. It’s an entirely different experience.
What do you bring home with you from your travels? Is there anything you treasure the most?
I have quite a few treasures from around the world! When I travel I often get rid of everything I have in my luggage to make room for all these gems I want to take home. The most beautiful things in my collection come from Bolivia and Peru. Both countries are known for stunning handicraft and I simply couldn’t resist. But if I were to choose the one most treasured possession, it would be a paper-wrapped record I bought from a street saxophonist in Cuba. It was a rainy day in Havana and I wasn’t looking for anything to buy… So, when I came back home and listened to the record for the first time I couldn’t believe that I’d spent only 5 dollars on–what turned out to be and still is–the most beautiful record in my entire collection.
questions: Agata Kiedrowicz
photos: Sonia Szóstak