“Strangers are my society”
How important is fine art to your career?
To me, art is an existential necessity. It keeps me sane by allowing me to explore and express myself, build a relationship between me and my world, connect to strangers on a personal level, and investigate my obsession with time, memory and death. Everything around me is temporary. Cities, streets, people – all of it is always about to disappear. And therefore precious. I take photos to save evaporating life. My art is a death-inspired love-story.
Are you involved in any other arts?
What were you doing before photography?
Most of my followers know me as a writer, but since I write in Russian that side of me is inaccessible for the English-speaking world. Photography became an essential part of my literature because I get my stories as a result of my loitering with a camera.
What was the first thing you photographed?
It was long before photography became “a thing” to me. My then alive older brother gave me his film camera so I could take pictures on my school trip to a castle near a city a lived. That castle became my first subject to photograph. It was random though. When I returned to the photography 20 years later, it was a human I craved for being isolated as a refugee in the US. I’ve started to shoot strangers on the streets of New York. Strangers became my society.
How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?
I just keep shooting and experimenting. I avoid the comfort of settling in one style that I can call mine and then market myself as an artist that does “that”. Style has a risk to become a grave. Besides, we’re constantly being provoked to reproduce some trendy aesthetic of the present which turns a lot of artists into those hip industrial clones. The only way to make better pictures is to practice within yourself and clear the pipe that goes from your heart to your eyes. That’s the main trick – to open your chest and let it bleed without rationalizing it or comparing yourself to others. Everyone is better than you in everything except in being you.
What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
Your guts are wiser than your mind. Just throw yourself into a situation and follow your senses. Be animal. Naked and senseless.
What type of cameras do you shoot with?
At the moment, I shoot everything on Fuji X-Pro2.
How would you describe your photography style?
Dreamy. Romantic. Bewitched. Melancholic.
Where can we find you online?
Interview by Daniel Peace for Siilk (April, 2019)