When I look through the various portions of your portfolio – photography, street art, collage, etc. – it sometimes feels like I’m seeing the work of multiple artists rather than one. Is it important to you that your work in these different media be distinct from one another? Are there any threads of continuity – visual, conceptual, whatever else – that tie them together for you? Yes, you are absolutely right - I consciously seek to avoid the trap of the “author’s style.” The world of art requires us to underscore originality and authorship, a certain manner that will distinguish you from all and make you unique. Today, I think authorship and style are boundaries for any artist. I strive constantly to look for something new - don’t stop anywhere, constantly experiment. This refers for all that I do: photographs, collage, graffiti, objects… Maybe it’s just searching for myself, I don’t know.
The first work of yours that caught my eye were the images from this collection. Although they definitely have a sense of humor, these shots also seem to hold the most overtly political content of all your work. Can you lend some insight into where you’re coming from with these photos? Generally speaking, do politics play any role in what you do? If artist has something to say, his art is always political! I’m a supporter of left-wing views, but I can’t say that all of my work has a political connotation. Sometimes it is a social critique, sometimes something ironic about the current model of society, sometimes an absurd construction of meaning.
A lot of your photos seem to relate sex with violence, often in a tongue-in-cheek manner (e.g., the diptych of the gun and dildo, the photo of the knife with a condom over the blade, the still-life shot of the dildo with spikes on the head, the shot of a knife stabbing a photo of a girl’s ass, etc). Am I wrong? Is that an idea that interests you? This work (in my series “Parallel Worlds”) is a reflection of my personal life. All the photos from this series represent my personal situation, which I fix on film. Afterwards, I create imagery from this. Sometimes I give a key for guiding, but everyone has the ability to interpret my works as sees fit. The spectator is the creator of art.
A fair amount of your work seems to relate to still-life photography, which is a mode a lot of young photographers are exploring these days. What is it about that style that appeals to you? I think that the big interest young photographers have in still-lifes is due to the fact that today, it’s more and more difficult to shoot people on the street. My experimentation with still-lifes is about creating meaning in art with the objects that are around us, having another experience with the material. But I don’t think I’ll settle for that.
What do you find most exciting about photography? What do you find most frustrating? I will not talk about things that I don’t like in photography, but I will say that the most exciting thing is that it unites people. I will give an example of our young community: Civil Collective, which was organized by Charles Guthrie. It’s amazing that people from different parts of the earth can come together based on their total interest in photography.
You’ve mentioned elsewhere that you didn’t think it would be possible to pursue a photography career in Ukraine. Why? What do you do for a living instead? Would you ever consider moving somewhere else? If so, where? It’s true. You see, it is very difficult to live in a society with a bad taste; where the person who pays for your work tells you how to do your work; in a country where there is a monopoly in art with new things nobody needs, a total cult of painting (very often bad painting). It’s absurd! In Ukraine, you can make a good career working as a manager in a large company, but in art… In Ukraine, it’s hard to be an artist, especially a young artist. Ukraine has no galleries that support young artists, it doesn’t have modern art education… It is very difficult to get a Ukrainian passport, and it limits me in travelling. I can’t leave my country without a visa, but in order to get the visa, I need to go through a lot of stress. Permanent restrictions in all, but really, I dream about going away.
Can you name a contemporary photographer whose work you particularly admire? Does his/her work relate to your work at all? I think it is no secret that Wolfgang Tillmans is now the legislator of style and role model for many photographers. It was that way for me also, for a long time. But this summer I had the opportunity to work together with Boris Mikhailov, the great Ukrainian photographer, and he made very strong impression on me and my work. I can say a lot of names that inspire me: Caesar van Everdingen, Jheronimus Bosch, Peter Fischli & David Weiss, Jh Engstrom, Sterling Ruby, Gerard de Lairesse, Marina Berio, Alec Soth, Jean-Christian Bourcart, Aaron Curry, Jim Goldberg, Annelies Strba.
Any current or upcoming projects you’re excited about? Nothing special right now. At the end of this month in Kiev, there will be small group show, so I’m preparing for that now.