Russ Land / Uldus Bakhtiozina
Interview for Aesthetica Magazine
Interview with Photographer Uldus Bakhtiozina BEGIN .entry-content Born in USSR in 1986 in Leningrad city (Saint-Petersburg), photographer Uldus Bakhtiozina has long been impacted by her Russian heritage. Working on a new book that explores the fairy tales of pagan Russia, Bakhtiozina looks for the stories behind the image. The artist studied photography at Central Saint Martins, London, where she lived for a number of years before returning to Moscow. Currently specialising in photo-based-art, fashion photoshoots and music videos, she has been published in Vogue Italy, exhibited work internationally and was the first Russian speaker at TED. She speaks to Aesthetica about her favourite locations and her frustrations with the current trends in photography.
A: Can you remember the first photograph you took?
UB: The first picture I took was when I was six-years-old with my father’s film camera. He set up everything for me and I just chose the right perspective. It was in our countryside house. However, the first photograph, which started my career as photo based artist, was a self-portrait that I took in 2009 in London. I can remember it very clearly because it was a very emotional shooting process and it became very popular on the internet after publication. This particular photograph is in my biography as a memory and as a mission statement to fight against stereotypes and for positivity.
A: What do you aim to capture in your images?
UB: I aim to record the central ideologies and characteristics of a person. There is always a long story behind each of my photographs and my models bring their own ideas to the conversation. There are way too many bland, cold and boring fashion images out there. My works try to express something deeper than today’s average trendy photo formula. I make an active effort to get away from that. I want to learn or feel something when I look at an image – so I try to create the same experience with my my art and my life. I want to shoot stories that existed before the photograph was taken and that draw the audience to think about what will happen next.
A: Which photographers have inspired you?
UB: I never searched for other photographers, until I was compared to them by other people. The reason for this is that for a while I didn’t consider myself as a photographer, but as an artist and photography was my tool to express ideas. I prefer to get inspiration from life, people in my country, English painters, comic books, fairy tales and magic. I am deeply impacted by Pre-Raphaelites and the poetry of the 19th Century. However, at the same time I am very passionate about modernity and the media, and I also love super heroes, especially Iron Man, the German language and coloured hairs on girls.
A: Is there a location in the world where you would love to shoot photographs?
UB: I have actually already taken photographs in my dream location: Iceland. And I will certainly do it again!
A: What do you have planned for the future?
UB: I am planning to train myself to do 40 press-ups in a row, as, like a lot of women, I want to lose wait before the beach season! For work, I am in the process of creating a series of photographs for a book I was commissioned to make. This book will be dedicated to the history of Russian fairy tales and the hidden facts about heroes and shamanic powers that were highly respected in Russia before Christianity arrived. This project is going to take me quite long time because I am designing and stitching all costumes and headdresses. I am also taking long walks into Russian forests to find the perfect locations, to get connected with nature and to find models who are still connected to paganism and the history of Russian fairy tales.