Like many people born into military families, TJ Anzulewicz, ’11, moved 16 times before graduating from high school. So, it seems almost predestined that this photographer and arts graduate would put together a photo exhibit called "Wanderlust." The surprising part is that his solo exhibition would come so early in his career. "I knew I would have a little exhibit but didn’t expect it to expand this much. It’s just kind of snowballed," Anzulewicz said.
Wanderlust was simultaneously well planned and haphazard — a collection of portrait photos and corresponding artifacts that include a fence topper, rocks and broken tiles. The collected items are marked with a QR code that, when scanned, will project the corresponding image for that location. At first glance, it may be difficult to find the link between the photos and assortment of discarded trash that comprise the 10-day exhibit, but it makes perfect sense once you hear how it came about.
Wanderlust was the result of eight, day-long walks Anzulewicz took over two years on two continents, as part of his study abroad program. "The project kind of created itself," he said. "That was the whole point."
His first international trip was as part of a collaborative, four-week study abroad trip to Italy with 45 other students in the College of Arts + Architecture. "I had already taken digital photography in Greenville so I got the approval to devise my own photo project," he said.
Carrying a 50-pound backpack, he completed four walks in Italy and three in Japan with 8-10 stops each, depending on the terrain and the weather. He came away with a map of 25-30 miles in a foreign land and about a dozen images and items to use as material for the interactive mechanical and digital exhibition.
The additional benefit was the chance to escape the usual tourist path and observe the usually unseen layers of the culture. "Some people go to these places and don’t look at the rest of the country. This project allowed me to get away from the current of commercialism and tourism and see the countries for what they really are."
Days began at sunrise at a historical location such as the Rome’s Spanish Steps. He would take a picture and collect a corresponding discarded item at the site. He would then set a timer for an hour’s walk in one direction. At the end of that hour, he would take another photo, collect another item, then repeat the process. Each trek lasted 10-12 hours with an hour rest for lunch.
In September 2010, Anzulewicz participated in the University’s art program at Toyo University in Japan. He had been fascinated with the country since childhood because of his love for Japanese animation, but admits he was a bit disappointed when he first arrived. "There were fewer giant flying robots than I’d imagined," he joked before adding, "It was a fantastic place — the culture and the people in general."
Anzulewicz used the January to March school break to embark on the second half of his photography exhibit. He was about 650 miles from Tokyo on the island of Kyushu when the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit. After several days, he returned to the capitol city, where he was instructed to return home five months ahead of schedule.
Assistant Professor of Art Aspen Hochhalter, one of the two professors on the study abroad program in Rome, expressed both pride and surprise at the scope and depth of Wanderlust. "We always knew TJ was going to have an exhibit, but the amount of work he’s done and the intensity of this project is definitely unusual for someone at his level. It’s pretty amazing," she said.
Meanwhile, images from his Wanderlust exhibit are on his website.
Photo courtesy of TJ Anzulewicz.