INTERVIEW: Kat Dlugosz

Fòcas Creative Director Arpita Shah interviews Fòcas India shortlisted artist Kat Dlugosz, an emerging photographer based in Edinburgh, about her project Waiting Room.

F: You arrived in the UK from Poland in 2005 and trained in Scotland as a photographer. Waiting Room is about Scottish immigrants to Europe. It’s a response to Brexit, isn’t it?

K: “Waiting Room” is indeed a response to Brexit. It’s about the ambiguous situation that EU immigrants found themselves in after Brexit. Many of them, being part of the Scottish society for years, were suddenly forced to question their sense of belonging, and put a question mark over their own future and the future of their families.

F: The project is obviously close to your heart. Many of your sitters share similar concerns about Brexit with you, don’t they? Do you see this project as advocacy in any way? Or is it principally an emotional response?

K: It’s a little bit of both. As an immigrant myself, I’m emotionally connected to this project. I share the same anxieties, in this respect, as my sitters. Some of them are also my friends. But my main reason for starting this series was to show the complexity of people’s situations. The media and politicians often talk about immigrants in terms of economics, workforce etc., but they rarely talk about the emotional implications of Brexit. I photographed people who come from EU countries with their families or partners, placing them in their homes, and within their local environments. I wanted to give the ‘immigrant’ a human face. I spoke to each photographed person about how they feel and how Brexit could potentially change their lives. The photographs are not complete without the excerpts from these interviews.

© Kat Dlugosz

F: You graduate this year from Edinburgh Napier University. Where would you like your practice to go from here?

K: I’d like to move in the direction of documentary photography; I have a few ideas for future projects, but they’re still in a research stage. They might involve moving image, too, as including video and sound adds more dimension. I also feel that “Waiting Room” is not quite finished, there are still stories to be told in a slowly developing political situation. The subject of immigration is close to my heart, and I plan to expand the area of research here, and see where it would take me. I just like finding out people’s stories, and photography gives me an excellent cheeky excuse for being nosey.

© Kat Dlugosz

Kat Dlugosz, born in 1985 in Poland, has moved to the UK in 2005 and settled in Edinburgh, Scotland. She studied at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen and at Edinburgh College of Art, before graduating in BA Hons Photography at Napier University in 2017. 

Her work is often inspired by social and political issues, with a special focus on feminism, migration, and effects of politics in people’s lives. Enabling the subjects to add their own voice to the conversation is an important part of her practice.