She doesn’t like to plan anything and having a diary with everything planned down to the minute would probably kill her. She says she doesn’t let herself get carried away by any undercurrents and perhaps that is the path that has led her to success and a happy life. Although she tends to stop herself from talking about happiness.
It looks like you’ve just gone through a rather hectic period. You have an exhibit in Geneva, your publishing a book, taking photos…
On the contrary! It’s a period when I’m easing off the gas pedal and releasing pressure. Once I hand in my work, I don’t think about it anymore. So as soon as I finished the photos for the exhibit in Geneva and handed in my manuscript, it all fell away. There are other things piling up right now, which I have to deal with. Promoting the book is just the icing on the cake.
How long did it take you to write the book?
About nine months, but there were big gaps in between.
Did you pause in order to gain inspiration?
When the deadline was drawing close I worked like a horse. Every afternoon I stopped functioning for any other purpose and just wrote. When I didn’t touch the manuscript, it wasn’t because I didn’t know what to write. That would be bad. It was because I had other obligations and the book simply had to wait. But I work well with a looming deadline. I like being under pressure. I feel it boost my performance.
So when you have oceans of time, it’s wrong?
Paradoxically, it is not ideal when you have oceans of time and ideal conditions. It relaxes you, slows you down, you get lazy. On the other hand, the stress is often not worth it. Only the kind that you admit.
How do you do it?
I don’t have to think about it. I have an intuitive control light that allows me to overlook things which are not important. Whenever I neglect something, I tell myself that this is how it was supposed to be and it was not important. The fact that you didn’t do it means that they must have been a good reason. Even if otherwise might think otherwise. You have to be able to overlook their opinions.
Is the fact that you don’t care what other think something that you’ve done your entire life, or does it come with age?
I think it’s a natural process. When you are young, you tend to do whatever others ask of you. But in time you focus more on what you do for yourself and what you enjoy. This makes you happy. And once you are happy, the people around you can be happy too. It’s a healthy kind of selfishness.
Are you happy?
I am afraid to use that word. It feels like a happiness-swat that you chase happiness away with. I don’t want to overuse the word. The feeling of happiness does not last long, no matter what you’re doing. When you have children, it gives you a feeling of happiness, but often you don’t even realise it. Sometimes only in hindsight. But being happy all the time? That is the road to insanity. If you were constantly happy, you wouldn’t know that you are happy. You can’t always be up. You have to fight for happiness in order to appreciate it. But that is the same with everything; work, relationships, dreams, not to mention money. The basis is to do only what you believe in and what makes you happy, and to surround yourself only with people and things you love. Kick the other stuff away. Otherwise you will not manage, you will only serve other and forget about yourself.
Did you have a period when you realised you are merely serving others?
I think my rebellious nature probably wouldn’t manage that. I have always been rather stubborn, and I don’t believe people change. They can change their attitudes, but each person is essentially finished when they are born. Except for a few details, like not knowing how to walk and peeing in a diaper. The mind and character are already formed.
You have just published a book written from a man’s point of view. But you are a woman, who automatically puts a bit of herself into her work. How did the writing go?
I describe the story of a man who gets involved with many women. I live through the story with the main character, I try to think and act like a man. But that doesn’t mean I am the man who gets involved with them. Of course, no matter what I do, be it writing or photography, I am there, my signature, my character. My photos are never depressing. They are joyful, provocative, gentle and seductive, there is happy energy in them. I don’t beat down with boredom. A woman’s world is undoubtedly interesting and I find it easier to relate to because am a woman, but to write about men and to imagine how they think and what they feel… it was adventurous and very fun for me to penetrate deeper into the world of men.
Do you think you understand men so well you can afford to write a book from a man’s point of view?
You never know and I will never find out. Each man is a unique specimen. Although you could say they are all the same and it wouldn’t be far from the truth they each have a characteristic charge. The fact that you say the mandatory sentence that all men are rascals or that all women are cows, that’s a whole different chapter. But the temptation to get under their skin and not lie, to try to see things through their eyes… I really enjoyed it.
And how did it turn out?
I have plenty of friends among men that I speak to openly. Perhaps because I am not their wife or lover, then it opens the floodgates of eloquence. They feel at ease with me, as they are neither hunting nor under interrogation.
So you discussed it with men?
I didn’t ask them for instructions or anything like that, but when you speak to men, you hear all sorts of various stories, or how them managed in certain life situations or failed and turned out to be assholes, which they’re very good at… these things give you hints. It was all a very valuable spice that I sucked up and put back into the book.
Did you let anybody read any excerpts before you submitted the manuscript?
I let somebody read an excerpt strictly for study purposes, and was interested if maybe I had overdone it when the main character or his friends would continuously be thinking about or having sex. I was interested in knowing whether I came close to the souls of those men, or whether I am exaggerating. But I was told it is really like that.
So you managed to get under their skin.
I don’t know. Several friends I know who were not the source of inspiration read the book. They were delighted to tell me that they recognised themselves in the story. And these are men of various professions, experience. So I though “Bingo! There it is!”
And what did they say specifically?
One experienced lawyer told me that he feels as though I had described his life, yet I didn’t know him at all. He’s a friend of a friend and they know each other from football. But other men have more peaceful, loyal lives. Some people enjoy a tranquil life, they believe in their lifestyle and family and it works for them. But they are plenty of those who derail to another track and find out that this isn’t bad either.
You mentioned fidelity. How important is it to you?
It is not important enough for me to think about it. I have a boyfriend, I believe he is loyal to me, but I am not crazy to put my hand in the fire for him. He’s just a man. I instinctively feel that I mean a lot to him and he would do a lot for me. Every woman should feel this. But men are tomcats. They hear a mouse somewhere and they cannot leave it alone. They have to dump out and chase it, or the lazier ones at least swat a paw. You can’t blame a cat for doing its job! But I honestly don’t spend my evenings with Sam asking him “Sam, you’re loyal to me right? You love me, don’t you?” I’m not crazy! That road leads to hell! Who asks too much finds out too much, and I am not chronically curious.
So you are not the jealous type.
I’m not the kind of woman that would check somebody’s phone or mail, letters, e-mails. I don’t do that.
But many women do...
And do you think they are happier? A partnership does not mean scanning your partner’s mind, trousers and secrets. It consists of feeling good together and trying to find some kind of harmony. I don’t care what Sam does when he goes out, and I don’t want to know. I don’t steak his privacy, and I am not his keeper. He doesn’t call me when I go out either. I know for sure that he will not call to ask where I am and when I’m coming back. He would never do that and neither would I. It is a degrading and pathetic expression of distrust. I find it ridiculous (laughs).
Do you think trust is one of the fundamental things in a relationship?
Not suicidal trust. If your partner returns home after three days and can’t remember where he’s been, there is probably something wrong. But infidelity is not a cause. In principle, it means something is wrong. Otherwise, it is nice to trust each other. To know that he won’t kill you, poison you. That he stands by you. If somebody is continuously talking about infidelity, it means they have doubts...
Do you think they doubt themselves or their partner?
I would say themselves. Jealousy is essentially a curse. Only people who do not trust the relationship and do not trust themselves or their partner, into whom they project all their fears, are chronically jealous. You cannot live long with a person like that and I recommend turning around and running as soon as possible.
Have you experienced such a relationship?
I experienced it once a long time ago, and it was a valuable experience, because it shook me up. I have avoided such people ever since. It was offensive. When the person continuously controls you and puts you in the role of the guilty party. I hate reproaches. I am an innately loyal person. It’s not a problem for me. I like being loyal, because that’s how I am. But I wouldn’t say that I am a model of virtue.
You exhibit, take photos, publish books. Looking at your work, would you consider yourself a successful woman?
Isn’t it dangerous to indulge in this feeling?
Fine. Can you praise yourself and say that you’re good?
I don’t pretend to be excessively modest, nor am I overly vain. I am a realist and sometimes I realise things somewhat later. For instance, if somebody reminds of something, and I realise “Right, I really managed that! Yes. I’m good!” But I don’t get intoxicated by success and I keep going, because it’s not over yet and there is a long road still ahead of me. And I am still looking forward to it.