JP2 Love - the Pope for the times of multimedia
Interviewed by Witold Bereś
'The year was 2002, John Paul II was already seriously ill, I always wanted to do a good portrait session of him,' says Judyta Papp. So she simply sent a request with her portfolio by mail and she got a reply from Vatican - where, when and how much time she would have..
When she was taking those pictures, the Pope was already so ill that she actually started to think whether it was appropriate and whether she should take them; she wants to withdraw. But since they have already shown her their trust..
And yet those emotions do not leave her - she was only 22 years old and it was hard for her to hold them back while she was taking photos in John Paul II’s private library in Vatican..
Her hands were shaking from the emotions. She did not even notice that she had received a rosary – only later, when she got the pictures of that situation from Arturo Mari, the Vatican's court photographer, did she realize that the Pope himself had given her the rosary.
Judyta Papp, born 1977, is an artist, photographer, graphic designer and organizer of cultural events. She had many photographic exhibitions held, among others, in Cracow, Stockholm, Olomouc and London. She is the author of covers of books by such publishing companies as Harper Collins, Penguin, Universitas and Codex Media. She is also interested in documentary photography that usually takes the form of reports from movie sets.
Portraits have been her main passion for years. Her exhibition 'Special features', so popular in Cracow, consists of portraits of Wislawa Szymborska, Czeslaw Milosz, Slawomir Mrozek, Krzysztof Penderecki, Andrzej Wajda and Roman Polanski. The fruit of this passion are her albums: 'This is Milosz' – a result of a several-years-long cooperation of the artist with the outstanding poet; and 'The Dream' – a photo album containing portraits of famous Poles during their sleep. Furthermore, the ‘The Dream’ album comes with a unique questionnaire by professor Leszek Kolakowski on the topic of dreams, dreaming and sleeping, in which we can read:
1. Regardless of what led God or evolution to bestow us with sleep, it is worth to consider the following: if we did not have to sleep at all and were even not aware that something like this exists, would our lives be happier because of that or just the opposite?
2. Do people accepted into heaven, after a virtuous life, also sleep there and have dreams, bad or good?
3. What is actually real? Are our dreams and accidental sensual illusions real? (What great philosophers ask us about - Series I - Parmenides)
4. Or maybe we can truly, in this state of indifference, find our own happiness and do we enrich our life, not desiccate and deprive it of its possible fullness? (What great philosophers ask us about - Series I - Epictetus)
5. Are the typical human emotions, including pity and tenderness, sadness and joy, not the testimonies of our living in the diversity of the real world, but simply evidence of our immaturity and ignorance?
6. Or maybe the rigid calmness of our spirit, if it were achievable, would become the most perfect form of life? (What great philosophers ask us about - Series I - Sextus Empiricist).'
Judyta herself says that she does not like to talk about God. 'These are all private matters,' she responds cheekily. So why the Pope? 'Because he was an amazing, phenomenal man! Smart and fascinating,' she says. 'I do not know whether Poles even realize that the Polish Pope is the property of the whole world, that this Man unifies mankind and he is not only for believers but simply for feeling and thinking people.'
From this understanding of the papal attitude stems Judyta’s latest project: JP2 Love multimedia. It is a combined offering consisting of the Polish and English website, www.jp2love.pl and www.jp2love.com respectively, and of an album about the Pope and his poetry. It is an interesting undertaking because there are already many platforms on the Internet dedicated to John Paul II. However, all of them are created from the perspective of a man of religion and primarily for the believers. On the one hand, Judyta wants this portal to help retain the living memory of the Polish Pope, of his message of love and the need for dialogue. On the other hand, she wants it to be a living value for everybody - especially the young.
Users of this website, apart from gaining access to a variety of applications, can also share feelings, thoughts and problems. The author also wants to promote the work of the Pope by sending periodic messages - quotes for every day. Amateur memorial photos depicting meetings with the Pope, sent by the users, will be presented in a special gallery. The forum will serve as a place for broad exchange of views on the impact of teachings of the Polish Pope on our personal and social lives.
She adds: 'At the same time we are concerned not only with the preservation of what we know about the Pope but also about expanding our imagination with emotional values – about learning facts from personal sphere of His life, such as objects related to him, places he visited and manuscripts of his works. By recalling Pope's character and life, thanks to the Internet, Polish culture and customs can be made familiar to users all around the world. Let's face it, Poland’s strength does not lie in its small economy but in its spiritual culture and its great artists.’
‘And thanks to such Poles as Pope John Paul II, we can share with the world the truly interesting knowledge about Poland and, at the same time, we may be able to handle many diplomatic matters and promote our country!’
When it comes to the album with Karol Wojtyla’s poetry, the project was able to obtain from the Vatican - thanks to the efforts of, among others, priest prelate Pawel Ptasznik, Head of the Polish Section of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State – the Pope's previously unpublished manuscripts. Prelate Ptasznik wrote the texts and prepared a selection of Karol Wojtyla poems which, alongside with Judyta Papp's photographs taken at the sets of movies 'Karol: A Man Who Became Pope' and 'Testimony' as well as pictures of the Pope's personal items – create an original publication with a unique, intimate character.
Very personal reflections of well-known personalities constitute an integral part of the album. Professor Zbigniew Brzezinski admits: 'For me, Pope John Paul II is the first true spiritual and religious leader on a global scale in the history of mankind. Until now, all religious leaders appealed to a limited audience both theologically and geographically. John Paul II overcame these limitations through effective and skillful use of mass media, but also by the power of His personality and His deep spirituality.'
According to Israeli President Shimon Peres, who also accepted the invitation to share his opinion in the project, the Pope's mission was to replace ‘war with peace, hate with love, supporting the spirit of tolerance and mutual respect .. .’ ‘A verse from one of His poems became for me the essence of His person: ‘Love explained all for me – all was resolved by love.’
Nelson Mandela, former President of the Republic of South Africa, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, emphasizes that John Paul II 'was the moral guide in times when progress in science and technology did not go hand in hand with progress in compassion and common care.'
The online websites share films, media files, comments and events related to the promotion of the ‘JP2 Love' album. The websites also publish interviews with famous people and opinion makers. Marek Safjan, Janina Ochojska, Michal Urbaniak, Kenneth J. Arrow (Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics), George Weigel - author of the bestselling biography of Pope John Paul II, 'Witness of Hope'.
The teachings of John Paul II are not the only topic of discussion. Ethics in business, sports, politics, life priorities and values of people from different cultures of the world are also discussed.
Judyta Papp is an artist, photographer and graphic designer; she is also involved in investment projects and consultancy in this area.
'Yes, I take pictures, it's my passion, but artistic creativity does not exhaust all my interests..' What about the JP2 Love project on which you have been working for the past three years?
'I'm still looking for funds to complete this complex project. There will be two editions of illustrated books - in Polish and English; there are the Internet websites which are already successfully in operation; we are planning a billboard campaign that will take the poetry of JPII out on the streets and popularize the works of the Polish Pope. We intend to organize a huge, unconventional promotion of ideas and teachings of bl. John Paul II. We managed to make several presidents and many eminent authorities interested in this idea. For the purpose of this album, they have sent their very personal reflections on the meaning of the Polish Pope's message of love and dialogue.
September 20, 2012
PolskaMaSens.pl publication - 20.09.2012