Photograd interviews Michaela Harcegová

To accompany the new edition of PGZ, we have interviewed some photography graduates from the submissions received for the Photograd blog. Here we have an interview with University of South Wales graduate Michaela Harcegová.


Where did you attend university and what year did you graduate? BA (Hons) Photography, University of South Wales, Cardiff, June 2018.

Tell us about your time at university. Have you got any stand out moments you can tell us about? It was certainly challenging at the beginning, but I really enjoyed my time in Cardiff and at university. To pick one I would have to say my graduation and working towards our graduate show. It was stressful, for sure, but be part of organising and building the show felt amazing. Same with the getting my diploma. I felt huge sense of accomplishment. I am really grateful for everyone who supported me during my studies and help me through the tough times. I met some amazing people which I will be always thankful for.

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What themes do you explore in your work? My most recent work is currently capturing London at night. It’s looking at the city at its most vulnerable, changed after night fall to this surreal landscape, something darker, more mysterious. Deserted street, lit windows suggesting presence of people, in safety of their own homes. The idea and the project are still in progress and developing constantly, but through this work trying to interpret the complexity of this city that feel like second home to me but at the same time I don’t quite belong there. The images reflect firstly my feeling of strangeness, loneliness and anxiety surrounding my move to London and secondly the uncertainty what is going to happen and make sense of the changes that are happening. That sense of divide, anticipation and frustration about this situation that can be felt in the country.

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My other project attempts to capture and explore something that is essentially an experience in the ‘place’ that is at the same time ‘no-place’: bus stop. This experience is unique but at the same time the same. Something ephemeral. Waiting for a bus. The images were captured at night, illumined only by bus stop light, people become ghostly figures in the strange world. They could easily be taken out of dreams with everyone being able to associate their own experience with theirs. It is also something that lingers in our mind no longer than a dream with us sleep walking, operating on auto-pilot and avoiding boredom anyway we can. Strangers barely acknowledging each other. Place of lost time and waiting.

Tell us about your selection of images here. Why have you chosen to photograph the city at night? There is something surreal about the change between day and night. It’s like stepping in to different reality. The more dreamlike and darker version of it. I am really captivated by this change the poeticism of it. As I mentioned before, I am trying to capture the vulnerability, loneliness, and the sense of not quite belonging and night helps me translate this in to the imagery.

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How have you tried to show your feelings towards Brexit through your imagery? I haven’t intentionally, but it definitely influenced my work and it’s something I have been thinking about. It found its way in to my work. It reflects the mood that it evokes in the country. It is still unclear what will happen, as the decision is still being delayed and no deal has been made yet. When answering your question about themes in my work, I mentioned sense of divide, anticipation and frustration that I sense in the country surrounding Brexit. I feel like my imagery express this darker feelings and mood being shot at night, with streets void of people with perhaps single person which can’t be seen clearly. This means to represent the leaving of immigrants and uncertainty of their fate in UK.

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Depending on the outcome of Brexit and the future of the UK, where do you picture your photography taking you in the future? Do you think you will continue to make work around this subject? As the outcome is still unclear, it is difficult for me to say where the photography will take me in the future. In the months I lived here I fell in love with London, but I feel the things are slowly changing to the worse. I don’t believe UK leaving EU will solve the issues there are. Brexit is something that will influence the whole country if UK leaves and as a consequently might damage the relationships with European Union. I am interested where this will all lead, and I want to document this change through my photography whatever the outcome. I will continue working and developing this project further and see where it leads.

You mention that you are an immigrant from Europe. How do you see the near future of the UK affecting the way you live and make work? Yes, I am originally from Slovakia and my whole family lives there. To answer your question, it is very hard to say. I am still planning on staying in London for foreseeable future, but that might change depending what the outcome is going to be. I will continue to shoot and create work here in London or around UK, but I might take a different approach, concentrating more on the consequences and commenting more on the actual Brexit as my work so far is more indirect.

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What would you like for viewers to learn from your work? Maybe it’s me, coming here as a foreigner, but I felt scared, lonely and overwhelmed by London for quite a while after I moved there, and I still do struggle sometimes. Everything is so fast paced and just so very different to what I was used to moving here from Cardiff, and the anxiety surrounding Brexit is greater as the date draws closer. I want the viewers to see that in my work and communicate these feelings. My work can be interpreted in many ways but I want the viewer take away from it, in this context, is better understanding of the feelings about the situation from someone who is foreigner observing it from inside.

Have you got any exciting future plans? Yes, I have some exciting plans, but I don’t want to say too much at this point as they are still in the stages of planning. All I can say it might include some video work.