I’ve just returned to the USA at 25 after living in Poland for four years and working on a PhD in London for some time. Living between languages is a trying experience, to say the least—one’s ability to speak any of them well, especially one’s native language, starts to falter after a year or so. Syntax is distorted, not to mention one’s sense of self. Couple that with the all-too-obvious knowledge that you, the immigrant, will never—could never—fully assimilate almost exclusively because you look all too different. I came to be rendered as some composite alien being by both Poles and Americans.
I was driven to narrate my experience precisely because of this liminality. Facing an unexpected language barrier with my native English, not to mention difficulties with Polish, collages seemed to be the appropriate medium as they’re literally composites. For me, through collaging, I could more accurately navigate and narrate the sociopolitical wonders, paradoxes, and absurdities of this kind of life, bringing them into synthesis with each other—in Polish. Most of the collages are led by one piece or string of text, vague enough to evade immediate and absolute apprehension of the collage itself. It is in this way that the very act of encountering these collages approaches the reality of inhabiting the juncture of comprehension and disorientation.