Courtesy of Zula Rabikowska
Zula Rabikowska is a Polish-British photographer based in London.
Zula was born in Poland, grew up in the UK and worked in France, China, South Africa, India, Palestine and the Caribbean. Her practice is influenced by her own experience of immigration, and in her work Zula explores themes of national identity, displacement and belonging.
Zula often works with digital and analogue photography, and incorporates archival images and documents to challenge conventional visual story-telling norms. Her work has been shown internationally and featured in publications such as the BBC, Saigoneer, Café Babel and Notes from Poland.
Zula is pursuing an MA in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography from London College of Communication and works as a freelance photographer and as a photojournalist for SOPA Images in Hong Kong.
Student: Winning Entry: Ba Lan: The Story of the Vietnamese Diaspora in Poland
One of the biggest contemporary challenges is the human inability to learn from history, and how this approach has led to an increase in national populism. There has been a rise of right-wing governments globally, directly connected with xenophobia and racism. To better understand the global political climate, it is not adequate to document the surface effect, but it’s necessary to investigate the causes that have created an environment where political leaders use difference and “otherness” as a scapegoat.
This series subverts how the Polish society approaches its minority ethnic populations and challenges the way that Poland is perceived by other countries. I highlight the diversity of European identities and promote a sense of unity which is based on the idea that differences and diversity enrich human interactions. I collaborated with the members of the Vietnamese community in Poland to create non- sensational positive portraits of its members.
I believe it is more important than ever to embrace differences, whether they are physical, cultural, social, religious or political to stand united against bigger global challenges. By juxtaposing Poland’s and Vietnam’s past with contemporary individual stories, I cross ideological boundaries and help bring different communities together and promote a sense of harmony.
Untried Realities is about a personal experience of social separation during Covid in East London. Through self-portraiture, I bear the feelings of isolation, craving for human contact, and need for nature. The images were made in my flat in Whitechapel, an urban and concrete part of London. Where I live I do not have access to outdoor space and I started this series on the day of Boris Johnson’s self-isolation announcement in response to the situation. I use mundane household scenes to create a new “reality,” one which is physically in my flat, but one which hopefully visually transports the viewer into a parallel world. I make use of shadows and light to create humorous moments and temporary escapism from my current situation and to facilitate a sense of detachment.