Anna Grzelewska is a Polish photographer working in Warsaw. She is a graduate of the Department of Pedagogy of the University of Warsaw (2003) and a student of Andrzej Wajda in film direction with a focus on documentary film. Since 2010 she has been studying at the Institute of Creative Photography in Opava. Her Julian Wannabe’s project is a suggestive study of the life of a young girl who seeks support in a troubled period at the threshold of adulthood.
“Julia Wannabe” is a project that shows my daughter Julia growing up. My purpose was to search for sources of a woman’s identity and to explore the moment when a girl becomes a woman. There is something ambiguous and perturbing in this transition. Popular culture pictures childhood as a land of happiness: sweet and innocent. Our memory also tends to wipe any flaws off this image.
Shooting Julia, I wanted to look at the process of growing up in a more complex way. It is not reportage, a diary or a family album, but an attempt to capture the universality of this period. It is also a photographic reinterpretation of a psychological process of transferring — a photographic image is the result of Julia’s experience and my memory of it.
The title of the project is a reference to “Madonna wannabe” phenomenon. Girls who listen to Madonna’s music dress up and use make-up to look exactly like her. With these external attributes they try to discover the essence of being Madonna, the essence of femininity she embodies. Paradoxically, it helps them to express themselves.