Interviewed by F-Stop Magazine
F-Stop: How did you first become involved in photography and what led to you working in this medium as an artist?
Mateusz Sarello: I come from an artistic background. My father is a sculptor, so for me the visual arts came naturally, they were part of my family’s life. Big part. However, I shot my first roll of film consciously at the age of twenty five. It was then that I realized the need to communicate artistically through photography.
F-Stop: What led to making the project "Swell"?
MS: “Swell” is a story of a break-up and of unaccepted loneliness. At first it was supposed to be a documentary project about the Baltic Sea. A plan was drawn up and the places to be visited were marked on the map. During the trips to the Baltic I was accompanied by my girlfriend, until the moment of our parting. The parting changed me and I was no longer able to continue the project according to previously designed plan. I started going back to the places where we were together. Here the project ends, and a personal story begins. A story that has it’s final in the form of a book.
F-Stop: Can you discuss your process for making these images?
MS: At first I assumed that the documentary project about the Baltic Sea will be done on Polaroid. After parting with my girlfriend I tried to continue to use this tool, but it did not quite fit my emotional state in which I found myself. The selection of black-and-white film was the result of the change I went through.
F-Stop: What do you hope people see or feel or perhaps learn when they look at your photographs?
MS:For me it is important how the story is perceived by people not necessarily associated with photography. “Swell” is not so much a photographic book, but a personal story told in pictures.
F-Stop: Do you have a favorite image in this series? If so, which one and why is it the image that speaks to you most?
MS: I do not have a favorite image, as single photographs are just elements of the whole story. The story closed in a book is my statement.
F-Stop: What are you working on now?
MS:At the moment I concentrate on promoting my book “Swell”. Book fairs and author’s meetings take most of my time. I continue working on the subject of loss. My new project, like “Swell”, is very personal and intimate. It evolves around the final stages of life.
F-Stop: What photographers or other artists inspire you?
MS:I grew up under big influence of Hieronymus Bosch. My father, a sculptor, had an album of Bosch works and kept it hidden from me. Often, with my parents out of the house, I would find it’s hiding place and study it for hours in details. I must have been at least six years old then. “The Last Judgement” has been my favorite painting since. Today, apart from Bosch, Francis Bacon and Anders Petersen are top of my list.
See "Swell" on F-Stop here: www.fstopmagazine.com/featured.html