Quarantine film swap - Agnieszka Ostrowska and Caroline Marchante



Agnieszka Ostrowska and Caroline Marchante are photographers from Poland and France, respectively. Agnieszka focuses on creating soulful self-portraits; Caroline does portrait, and cinematic photography. Titled 'Proximité sociale - bliskość społeczna', Agnieszka and Caroline's project combines their niches to create the most beautiful double exposure photographs that display their emotions freely.

Film swapping is a creative process in which double or multiple exposure photographs are created, by a few persons. When numerous persons shoot using the same roll of film, they expose the film roll double, or multiple times, achieving double or multiple exposure images.

In October last year, Caroline asked Agnieszka to collaborate with her on a photography project, hoping it would help her battle the harsh realities of COVID-19 and keep her creative energy well fed. Together, they decided that film swapping is their best option to create together since the pandemic and the distance between them left them with limited possibilities.



CM: It was getting hard to be stuck [in an apartment] without artistic- interaction, so it was fun to join countries and artistic visions. I thought of Agnieszka [to partner with] because she has a delicate point of view and her self portraits talk to my feelings.



Even though the concept of film swapping is straight forward, the actual process can be demanding. You are shooting on a roll of exposed film, so there's a great possibility that the picture you are taking might not turn out the way you intend.

To overcome this challenge, Agnieszka and Caroline agreed to set themes and topics for their photographs. They used two rolls of film, Kodak Portra 800 and Cinestill 800T. They shot flowers and Caroline's self-portraits on the first roll of film and kept the second roll of film for freestyle shooting.

Agnieszka is used to taking her photographs digitally. So, carefully planning each shot with an analog camera was a new concept for her.



AO: I took photos on the first roll in one day and let's say it straight - it was totally stupid. I'm used to taking photos quickly, and when it comes to analog [photography] you should be more careful; almost like with a child. You need to think about how to make it look nice and how not to waste a roll. Luckily, my photos on the first roll are not really visible; yet they still came out looking great.



 

This pandemic is exerting extra pressure on our mental health, to a point where getting through 2020 alive must be considered a success story. A lot of us can agree that our mental health has impacted the way we work and live. It has also inspired many to create by projecting their struggles onto their art.

AO: Sometimes, when I was taking photos for this project, it was really hard for me psychologically. There were really bad things going on in my life at that time. I was just unable to look at myself and my body. I think you can even see it in my eyes in this photo. I rarely take photos directly looking into them [cameras], but that time, something just broke in me.






Despite the challenges Agnieszka and Caroline faced, they both agree that this project was a fun process that they thoroughly enjoyed. Considering the fact that both of them have never met in person or spoken to each other over the phone, the photographs they created together hold notable significance.

Art is an exceptionally emotional process. It simply will not exist without emotions. To connect with a person and merge your ideas to birth art, is a blessing.

With concepts such as film swapping and FaceTime photoshoots, one can safely stay rooted to their creative nature and society in times of lockdowns and isolation. These ideas are great tools to forge new connections and take yourself on a little adventure.



More photographs and personal accounts of Proximité sociale - bliskość społeczna can be found on Agnieszka and Caroline's Instagram accounts.