The roots of imagination: An interview with Hubert Czerepok
The Krakow Post: Where does the interest about UFOs and paranormal activities come from?
HCZ: There are two different issues that made me involve UFOs and paranormal activities into my art. First of all, I?m interested in mystification, and UFO themes are ideal for many kinds of manipulation.
What?s more, amateur videos of UFOs have an incredibly aesthetic factor. What I mean is its bad image quality as well as its abstract forms ? it all reminds me of early video art?
Q. Do you use those methods in your pieces?
A. No. There is a whole bunch of this sort of art production. It?s no use making something like it once again. For example, Rod Dickinson used to throw a bowl into the air and take its photo to simulate a UFO.
Q. How did you find out about those strange events from Emilcin? Via Internet, documentary films, Rosinski?s comics?
A. My first contact with the UFO story from Emilcin took place when I was a 9- or 10-year-old kid. Somehow I got Rosinski?s comics. I remember it very clearly.
What stunned me most was the fact that the UFO didn?t look like a modern and futuristic spaceship. It looked like an average Polish house. When I was doing research on UFO stories in Poland, all of my memories returned.
Q. How did you conduct research? I guess it wasn?t easy because all the materials about Emilcin?s story are from the 1970?s- 80?s.
A. Internet wasn?t useful, but during my research I met Robert Bernatowicz. He?s the president of Nautilus Foundation. Their main interest is paranormal activities. He has a lot of information about the UFO landing in Emilcin. Presumably, he is the only person in Poland who knows so much about it.
Q. Can you tell us about your excursion to Emilcin?
A. After a few (not pleasant) incidents with our car, we managed to get to our destination round 17:00. It was getting dark ? almost too dark to make a film ? but I decided to put my camera on a stand and try to shoot a film anyway.
Q. What exactly did you film in Emilcin?
A. It wasn?t a re-enactment of Jan Wolski?s meeting with the UFO, because that?s already been shot years ago and is still available in archives.
What we did was rather a paraphrase of aliens landing. The aliens were two young boys. Although they were wearing costumes, it was visible that they were children. They were running on a meadow.
The UFO spaceship isn?t shown on the film. Another part of the exhibition is a video I made during a car ride through Emilcin. The village is small; it has something about 30 houses.
As I was riding, it occurred to me that although it is the middle of the day, there was no one on the street or outside their house.
The atmosphere was really odd. I realized that all those houses look like this spaceship from Rosinski?s comics. To exaggerate the impression of emptiness in Emilcin, I slowed the film ? one can see the village very precisely, almost frame by frame.
Q. Is Jan Wolski still alive?
A. No. But his son lives, though he?s very sick. It?s impossible to communicate with him.
Q. Do you add some new elements to history? Do you create new plots?
A. Yes, there are some little manipulations of mine. As I?ve mentioned, in my project the aliens are two boys. It?s an important element, because it provokes a connection with education. On the Internet, I found a photo on which two men put something like a towel in the back of the third man?s shirt.
Consequently, a hump is created on his back. This photo is called An Attempt to Create a Hump. It inspired me. I guessed that humps created on those boys? backs by their mother may bring associations with child-rearing. I started to think over how we are able to re-enact such odd situations like aliens landing on Earth.
Precise re-enactment isn?t possible, because we don?t have the real evidence of what happens. We have to base it on human imagination. To Jan Wolski, the UFO seemed to look like an average Polish house. What?s more, an alien in common belief in Emilcin has to have a hump. When I put it all together, it occurred to me that not only those houses which come from a different planet, but also those houses standing on Earth can by a nursery of otherness.
Q. Your project highlights the important role of cultural patterns. Jan Wolski didn?t have the opportunity to watch science-fiction movies, that?s why he wasn?t able to imagine UFOs as something different from what he knew ? a Polish house. The same thing goes for the hump on aliens? backs. For people living in a rural area, everything that?s bad is associated with a demon. In Polish folklore, a demon used to be portrayed as a monster with a hump. That?s why aliens were imagined by Emilcin?s citizens like creatures with a hump. You have a really great sense of observation. Tell me do you believe in UFOs?
A. I suppose that it would be a great arrogance to think that we are the only creatures in the whole universe. Our civilization has only had a few thousands years. I wouldn?t be surprised if it so happens that we aren?t the only ones.
Q. Thank you for the conversation.