Skammdegi series: Jakub Jančo

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“Nature is powerful here – that is the best part (in Iceland).” ~ Jakub Jančo

1.   Can you share with us your background and how it relates to your artistic practice?

I was born and raised in a mountain village in Slovakia. During my MFA, I attended exchange programs in Finland and in the United States. 

During my studies in Finland, I stayed in a small town, close to the Russian border. My photography teacher lent me her Leica and I took it with me to take pictures around the town. It was a very flat and quiet place, with basic elements of landscape, the forest, houses and lakes. I found my approach to photography there, it was a lot of aimless wandering, where you always find something unexpected.

2. Can you tell us more about your work?

I am an abstract thinker. I like to observe situations and look for “living systems” and patterns or repetitions in life. Photography is a lot about framing. It shows the world in a specific time at a specific moment. I see it as a basic appreciation of being in world. The ordinary scene captured by a camera shows the moment that can be poetic, tragic and funny at the same time.  

3. Is Listhús your first residency? Why did you decide to join the Skammdegi Festival?

Yes, it is my first residency. I wanted to see Iceland. I also thought it is a good idea to help with the hosting of a residency, to see of I would like to run my own in future. 

4.  Is Skammdegi Festival the first festival you participated in?

Yes, but I have taken part in a workshop with 21 international students before, it was a lot of fun. Similar to a festival, it involved creating your own work and sharing with others.  

5. How do you feel after living in Ólafsfjörður/Iceland for a month (December) so far?

Nature is very powerful here. This is the best thing about Iceland. The raw nature you can experience in Ólafsfjörður – blizzards, gales and big waves – it’s remarkable.  

With the weather and darkness in winter, you have to make plans ahead. It is also quite expensive to travel in Iceland, so I haven’t seen much in the country yet. I walk around the town a lot and visited Siglufjörður. Sometimes I feel a bit stranded between the tunnels (connecting Ólafsfjörður to Siglufjörður and Dalvíku), but in a way it’s good because I can concentrate and work with my little photo ‘archive’.   

6.  What is your plan for the second half of Skammdegi, in January? What are you going to create/present during Skammdegi Festival?

I want to do something physical, work with materials in this spectacular environment, use different elements like the sea, fire, earth (black sand) or the darkness.  

I will make some use of the “leftovers” from the New Year’s eve bonfire nearby the beach, make some sculptures from the metal. I have already constructed some objects and I am thinking how to push it further, where to I place them, maybe around the beach or the lake. I am also considering to leave them there as a public installation after the opening.  

One of our challenges exhibiting in Ólafsfjörður is to attract audience. We have to find some ways to bring them there or make it interesting. 

7.  What is your plan for 2018?

I want to concentrate on my career and continue with my business. I would also like to set up a proper studio in Slovakia. Then maybe I will expand it in the future as a kind of communal workshop and invite artists to work together.

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Jakub Jančo is a visual artist from Slovakia. His work looks at people or situations as they unfold: moments that reflect our biased understanding of the world or moments that are beyond human narratives. Website: http://www.jakubjanco.com/ 

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