The Other Art Fair opens at Victoria House, London, today. Placing the spotlight on the artists themselves, visitors to the fair can converse with established and emerging practitioners and purchase art as they go. There are a number of highlights at the first 2015 event, including Ukrainian artist, Anastasiya Lazurenko, who presents a tender momento mori of her friend and model, Valeria Koshkina in a series of portraits that explore and question female body image. We speak to Lazurenko about her relationship with Koshkina and her quest to reflect the truth in photography.
A: What made you want to exhibit at The Other Art Fair?
AL: I was in India at that time and all of a sudden, as I started feeling I was ready to say something with my work, everything fell into place with The Other Art Fair. I’ve had a very long journey as an artist. Art for me is a mystical yoga and now I feel rather confident in what I am doing – I feel like my work is ready to be shared with people right now and the Fair is a great opportunity for that. I also hope Banksy will come and fall in love with what I do and will allow me to make a gonzo documentary about him and about shamanistic stuff in art.
A: What equipment do you use?
AL: I prefer not to use digital innovations – I use film cameras and almost no digital manipulation. I dream of not using any digital gimmicks at all, so that my work is all about the energy flowing from the moment of catharsis to the print. I want my work to go back to that true beauty. I started with 35mm format camera then switched to the medium format as I felt that the negative was too small for the energy in the picture, and I finally came to 4*5 format and polaroids. The first time I felt this connection between the energy and the size of the negative was at an Ansel Adams’ exhibition. I still believe that the type of a camera is not so important – you can make art even using an iron! It is not really about the equipment, although you do need to be a real professional and a shaman as well!
A: How did you first get into photography?
AL: When I was a teenager people started asking me to take their picture. They liked how they looked in these pictures. They saw how beautiful and true they looked. I loved shooting girls at the artistic gymnastic competitions as I am also a trained gymnast. Now I think that I bring those aesthetics to my art – shooting subjective portraits of the natural beauty of a woman amidst an absorbing activity. My serious work started with strong transcendental experiences and spiritual growth.
A: What do you want people to take from your work?
AL: I want people to perceive my work at a sensual level. I want them to experience something transcendental, like unity and the feeling of love. My aim is to reveal a real woman’s beauty using the trigger of sexuality that glossy magazines do. I want them to think about what is real sex as opposed to the stereotypical form created by lots of businesses in order to sell something. I also want to create ideas around our true unity with god and the ability to love. I want to ask questions that go beyond the form and asks, what is inside us?
A: How has your friend, Valeria Koshkina, influenced what you do?
AL: Although, an important moment for me was when I stopped using Photoshop, I have had many other moments of revelation. I knew that Valeria wanted to speak to me before her death and I knew that she had problems, but I had no time to speak and meet her. She lost weight because her classmate’s told her that her arms were fat. After her death her Mum wrote to me on Facebook saying that I needed to devote something to her and she went on TV to speak about anorexia. Valeria also wanted to participate in TV shows. I then started a very deep investigation into our relationship with media, cults and the camera. In the last five years I have researched my own personal life. I then started to protest against the media, working to show something that goes beyond form and cannot be described. Ever since, I have decided to dedicate my love and time to help all the people I work with, especially girls. I think we usually meet at crucial points in our lives and I think what we do is shamanism – it is spiritual practise for all of us.
The Other Art Fair 23-26 April, Victoria House, Southampton Row, London, WC1A 2QP.
1. Anastasiya Lazurenko, Pearly Gates, Digital C type print.