People of the Dorms: Meet Jago

Interview by Kristina Horinková

Photo by Maria Mazurek

I’m Jago. My full name – Jagoda – means blueberry in Polish and it’s kinda a childish name. I’m 21, although sometimes I feel like 40 and sometimes like 5. 

I was born in Wrocław, Poland but the first 12 years of my life I spent in this lovely place on earth, which was a tiny, tiny village with 30 houses, one church, one fireman station and one big fake lake with rabbits in it.

I’m mostly into witchcraft and mathematics. Besides that, I tried pretending to be an art curator. I’m also a math teacher for a private IB school and that’s pretty ironic because when I was applying for high school, I really wanted to go to the IB one, but I didn’t get in. So I feel like I made some kind of progress in my life <laugh>.

What or who made you interested in it? What’s the story? 

When I was in kindergarten, I used to spend most of my time at my grandma’s place. She was a math teacher, so whenever I was going back from kindergarten, she was having private lessons with her students…and because her flat was tiny (there was only one room), I was usually sitting with them and at some point I got interested in it and was trying to do the same exercises as those kids who were five years older than me. 

And then, because I was doing this every day with her, I felt like I was some kind of prodigy when I went to primary school since I already knew square roots and so on.

Anyway, whenever they say that I’m artsy, I love to put this card that “actually, I’m a math teacher” and to see their reaction. I genuinely love it. I was wondering some time ago whether I’m doing this whole science shit just because I want to see those reactions <laugh> or actually I wanna do them.

With witchcraft, it’s more recent. I read a book which was describing a magical ritual thanks to which you could meet gods and leave your human part. At that time I was at the point in my life when I really hated being in human form, and all of the limitations and boundaries of my body. You know, the fact that we have only those senses which are not much capable of grasping the world around us. So, I decided to explore it and look for some alternatives for my perceptual sensations.

Photo by Maria Mazurek

When I came here I decided that I wanna make friends in every possible social group, with people of every age, at every point in life.

I have already been on both edges… I used to go with an art curator to some crazy events like champagne tasting or launching a new furniture design on some boat in Rotterdam. On the other hand, I used to spend some time in this old shaman’s home with lots of weird objects, ayahuasca, candles and herbs together with his crazy art around. 

So I think my goal for those 3 years in Amsterdam is to see its true diversity.

Is there some experience in your life that you feel like has shaped you significantly?

The strongest experience I had happened in Switzerland. Before coming to Amsterdam, I had to earn money to be able to pay for this university, so I decided to take a gap year, go to Switzerland and try my luck. Then I realized that I don’t know anyone there, so most of the time, I was completely alone, without any family or friends. And for the first time, I realized that I’m actually a  grown woman and that there are lots of men around who might (unfortunately) be interested. And actually, my first job was very tricky when it comes to that since I was a housekeeper for an old Swiss man…

So, at some point, he asked me to be something more than a housekeeper and I didn’t really know what to do. I remember that I called one man that I met before going to Switzerland who was trying to help me to find a job there. I described the situation and he just replied that I’m an adult woman, I’m responsible for my life and whatever decision I will make, it’s my and only my decision. Like, I don’t have to call my parents anymore and ask them about whatever I want to do. I think that was a pretty big realization of the start of adult life. Now I’m on my own and I have to do my thing, nobody else will do.

for those curious…

I just told this man that I could be his friend with whom he could have dinner, play some chess, go for a walk and do other activities we had already been sharing. But I’m not gonna have any physical interaction with him. And yeah, he fired me two days after that.

What is your life philosophy?

“The way you live should be your art. I believe that whatever I’m doing, I wanna do it in a way that when I tell it to someone, they will be like “Oh, it’s gonna be such a good book.””

It doesn’t mean that you have to live your life to impress others, not at all. But rather – what would be all of our crazy stories without any audience?

What is your favourite piece of art?

Every teenager is kind of self-conscious and worried about their body image. I found this book in the school library and it shows you all of the body types and their incredible beauty. It’s a photo book, more like a photo album of bodies from the early stages of photography till nowadays. During my life, I was struggling a lot with my body image in general. But after seeing that book something broke inside me. I saw how many beautiful photos and poses you can make with every kind of body… that made me realise that I don’t actually have to look in any particular way. Also, all of our imperfections make us us, all of those wrinkles, beauty moles, uneven knees, bigger noses or ears. All of them are fucking beautiful.

I got this book as a gift from the librarian who was working there. She saw me crying while looking at all of those photos, we had a small conversation and at the end, she just told me: “take it, I feel like you need it.”

Photo by Maria Mazurek

What is the biggest misconception people have about you? 

Whenever people see me, either in my room or outside, just based on how I look and what I wear, they think that I’m an artsy person, someone who’s studying either sculpture or painting or whatsoever related to art. And yeah, actually I love art, but it’s definitely not my cup of tea when it comes to academics. I think that studying art is usually full of unnecessary bullshit. Anyway, whenever they say that I’m artsy, I love to put this card that “actually, I’m a math teacher” and to see their reaction. I genuinely love it. I was wondering some time ago whether I’m doing this whole science shit just because I want to see those reactions <laugh> or actually I wanna do them.

And lastly, what are you proud of? 

When I was in primary school, my mom really wanted me to go to summer/ winter camps. Once, when I was eight or so, she sent me to this one winter camp, organized by a different city, so I didn’t know a single person there. Obviously, I went there without any friends to make it even worse. So, I ended up in a room with two older girls who hated me from the first day, probably because I was the younger one.

They started to do very awful things to me. They were taking photos of me with those old phones that you cannot really see anything because of the pixels in them. They were finding those really weird situations just to make me feel bad. I remember I was crying every day because this whole camp lasted for 10 days and asking my mom to come to pick me up but she was like: “No, you have to be strong. Just survive. It’s only 10 days”. Then I realized that she didn’t want me to go back because my father used to have a similar experience when he was young. But he did go back home and she told me that I cannot be a pussy like my father <laugh>.

So basically I survived these awful 10 days and I’m very proud that I wasn’t scared of going to any other camp or to any other place by myself. I did it over and over and basically, there wasn’t a single year that I spent at home. I was always trying to do everything by myself and going everywhere alone just to see completely new groups of people. And actually, I think that I’m doing this right now as well with my life. 

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