I r e n R u s s o
How would you describe what you create?
I try to project the very special state of melancholy and nostalgia for times before the Internet era.
HOW HAS YOUR EDUCATION influenced YOUR CURRENT PRACTICE?
I was born and grew up in a creative family, my father is a commercial photographer and my mother is a seamstress, so I usually try to use my parent’s craft in my artistic practice. Also I’ve got my BA as an art historian in Kharkiv state academy of design arts. But academic education gave me much more networking skills among other students who became gallerists, artists, art managers, etc.
What kind of photographer did you set out to be?
Independent photographer-flâneur, who is always aestheticizating the local Ukrainian context for creating my own visual vocabulary of characters, landscapes, vernacular architecture. I always wanted to be a “pioneer-discoverer” in different aspects. For example, for creating portraits I am always much more interested in finding interesting, unknown people, without having a rich model experience and having nice Instagram. Or I enjoy finding new “wild” locations for shooting, then share it to other colleagues on Google maps, then to be calm and pleased that I was the first who has been there.
What are the fundamental messages you want to get across with your work?
I never have some strict messages, for me it is important to transfer the general state of nostalgia.
What is the concept behind your ongoing ‚Absentee — Attendee‘ series?
From the very beginning of my photographic journey, I have explored my habitats with a clear, defined goal — to find new, interesting locations that could become a worthy backdrop for a good portrait. But this time I changed my method and focus. For this, I turned to flanery as a kind of meditation, the desire to explore and contemplate the most unobvious places and views.
What’s the most important thing for you when shooting a series? How do you bring out the idea?
“Pretty Ghetto” and “Absentee’Attendee” series weren’t planned in advance, it’s result of my constant long-term explorings. In “Pretty Ghetto” the human was always the main hero, happening on some surrealistic but local background. In “Absentee” I’m changing my focus to native landscape as a main character and theme for observing. In other series, such as “38” I appeal to the theme of relationships between me and my best friend and model Yaroslava, because I always was obsessed by such themes as similarity in relationships between best friends, models and photographers, etc. In the near future I’ll present my new series called “Childhood Ballad” where I was looking for children like me in my early 2000’s childhood, and then photographing them in my old clothes with old toys from that time.
Which artists have inspired you?
There are my contemporaries: Michal Pudelka, Lukasz Wierzbowski, Nazar Furyk, and of course, Synchrodogs.
Which work are you most proud of?
I appreciate all of my work.
What is next for you?
First photo book 🙂