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Interview with Art Collective founders of ALTTTTTAR, Alfiia Koneeva & Mariia Bokovnia


Text by Irina Rusinovich

IInterview with Art Collective founders of ALTTTTTAR, Alfiia Koneeva and Mariia Bokovnia

How did you choose the theme or concept for your art event, and what inspires your creative direction?

The concept for „Archive of Upcoming“ was deeply rooted in the captivating venue we selected – a former archive. This choice was not accidental; it symbolizes our commitment to challenging conventional notions of archives and their connection to our uncertain future. Our inspiration came from the tumultuous social, ideological, and political landscape of our times, which profoundly shapes our perception of what lies ahead. In this exhibition, we embarked on a profound exploration of the intricate interplay between our contemporary world and the mysterious frontiers of the future.

As curators, we were personally drawn to the theme because it allowed us to delve into the enigmatic uncertainties that often cloak the future. We were fascinated by how these uncertainties sometimes render the future unclear and, occasionally, disconcertingly dystopian. Throughout the curation process, we were continually struck by the recurring theme of the past, present, and future intersecting in the works of the artists we selected. This theme encouraged us to challenge our own detachment from reality, question the blurred lines between utopian dreams and dystopian realities, and deeply reflect on the profound impact of human activity on our planet.

„Archive of Upcoming“ became, for us, a symbolic space where the past and future coalesced, offering a profound reflection of our present moment. We came to view archives as more than mere repositories of history; they transformed into dynamic spaces that showcased a tapestry of diverse visions of the future. These visions, sometimes fragmented and uncertain, provided unique perspectives that could very well become integral chapters in our evolving history.

As we navigated the artistic tapestry woven by these talented individuals, we were personally inspired to envision the intriguing contours of what lies ahead. It was an invitation to participate in an ongoing dialogue that shapes the very essence of our existence, to blur the boundaries between past and future, and to engage with the intricate complexities of our world. „Archive of Upcoming“ became, to us, a testament to the ever-evolving nature of our reality and our collective pursuit of understanding the enigmatic future.

Can you describe the process of curating artists and artworks for your event and what criteria do you consider?

The process of curating artists and artworks for „Archive of Upcoming“ was an exciting and personally rewarding journey. What set our approach apart was our emphasis on the artists‘ works themselves, prioritizing their creative expressions above all else. In fact, many of the artists we featured were previously unknown to us, a testament to our commitment to discovering fresh, emerging talent. Our foremost criterion in selecting artists was the undeniable talent showcased in their works. We were drawn to pieces that resonated deeply with the concept of the exhibition, capturing the essence of uncertainty and the interplay between past, present, and future. Each artwork had to contribute meaningfully to the narrative we aimed to construct within the space.

We also considered how the artworks would harmonize with the unique style and atmosphere of the venue. The former archive, with its captivating history and architectural character, served as a canvas upon which the artworks would be displayed. It was crucial for us that the artists‘ works not only complemented the overarching theme but also enriched the aesthetic of the space itself.

Our primary focus was always on artistic quality and conceptual alignment. This approach allowed us to curate a diverse yet harmonious collection of works, providing a platform for emerging artists to shine while contributing to the overarching narrative of „Archive of Upcoming.“

photo credit Alizee Gazeau

What promotional and marketing techniques have proven successful in attracting a diverse audience to your independent art event?

We were deeply passionate about reaching a wide and diverse audience. To achieve this, we engaged in collaborations with local influencers and art communities who shared our vision. These collaborations not only helped us reach a broader audience but also allowed us to tap into the creativity and energy of the local art scene.

Another key element of our promotion was the use of creative and eye-catching materials. We understood the importance of visual appeal in today’s digital age. By investing time and effort into creating compelling promotional materials, we aimed to capture the essence of our event and draw people in.

Moreover, word-of-mouth played a significant role. Our personal connections and networks were invaluable in spreading the word about our event. The genuine passion we had for „Archive of Upcoming“ was evident in every conversation, and this authenticity resonated with others, driving them to attend and support the exhibition.

How do you plan to create an engaging and immersive experience for attendees beyond the artworks themselves?

At „Archive of Upcoming,“ our vision extended beyond merely presenting a collection of artworks. We were deeply committed to crafting an immersive space that beckoned attendees to actively engage with the art. To achieve this, we meticulously curated the exhibition environment, ensuring that it not only complemented the artworks but also invited personal interaction.

Moreover, we are thrilled to announce a forthcoming highlight of the exhibition experience: on September 14th, we will host a captivating sound performance concert. This concert will feature five diverse DJs, each poised to infuse the space with their unique sonic perspectives. This addition promises to transform the event into a multisensory journey, allowing attendees not only to appreciate the art but also to become an integral part of the immersive experience. We believe that art should not be a passive encounter but a vibrant and engaging one that fosters deeper connections and understanding. Join us on September 14th for this exciting exploration of art and sound, where past, present, and future collide in a mesmerizing sensory fusion.

Photo Credit Evgenia Chetvetkova

Can you share any challenges you’ve faced in organizing this art event independently and how you overcame them?

One of the most profound challenges we encountered during this journey was the lack of financial resources. This challenge was particularly impactful as young collectives and artists, especially those with diverse backgrounds, struggle to secure financial support in the current art landscape. In the contemporary art scene, resources often flow to already established and successful galleries and projects. This dynamic creates a significant barrier for emerging artists and collectives. As curators with backgrounds that don’t include well-connected families or established networks in the art world, the process was pretty exhausting.

However, we overcame this hurdle by pooling our own resources, seeking alternative funding sources, like support with the venue from „Konnekt Berlin“ and huge help from our friends and artists. It was a testament to our commitment to the vision we held for „Archive of Upcoming“ and the belief that art should not be limited by financial constraints. The personal and collective sacrifices made this journey even more meaningful, reinforcing our dedication to fostering a space for emerging artists to shine, regardless of financial barriers.

What role does technology or digital platforms play in enhancing or expanding the reach of your art event?

While Instagram remained a primary platform for us, the recent algorithmic changes presented a challenge. However, we recognized the importance of adapting to evolving digital landscapes. Despite algorithmic complexities, digital platforms remained instrumental in reaching a global audience. We leveraged these platforms not just for promotion but also for creating a digital extension of the exhibition, allowing those unable to attend in person to experience the art virtually.

The digital realm also provided a space for artists to share their stories and processes, fostering a deeper connection between creators and their audience. While technology brought its challenges, it also opened up new avenues for engagement and outreach.

photo credit Alizee Gazeau

In what ways do you foster collaboration and community engagement within the art scene through your event?

The birth of Art Collective ALTTTTTAR in Berlin in 2022 was a deeply personal journey for Mariia Bokovnia and Alfiia Koneeva. It was born from a desire to redefine how art is represented and experienced. ALTTTTTAR aimed to break down barriers for young artists, regardless of their cultural or social backgrounds, offering a platform where talent could shine.

This mission resonated deeply with us as artists and curators, as we felt the impact of the established art hierarchy on emerging artists. ALTTTTTAR became a place where cultures converged, and art served as a universal language that united people.

Through exhibitions in unconventional spaces, we sought to disrupt the norm and bring art directly into the daily lives of city dwellers. This approach allowed us to create a unique dialogue between art and everyday life, enriching both. Our commitment to providing an inclusive space for artists was deeply personal, reflecting our values and aspirations for the art community.


Studio Visit | Tora Aghanayova


Text by Irina Rusinovich, Photography Johannes Pol 

Studio visit | Tora Aghabayova

How did your journey as an artist begin, and what inspired you to specialize in figurative and surrealist painting?

The journey began not by the easel but by piano. My family believed I would make a good pianist. But I guess I did not have a proper physics for that as my fingers are not long enough or perhaps the music school program was not fiery enough, anyway,  I turned to paper. Several years in all sorts of art schools and I graduated from Azerbaijani State Art Academy with full knowledge of putting those fat strokes, soviet style painting, you know? Creativity is not very welcome but skills must be fine. No complaints about that. I would not want any direction on my thoughts. The most interesting things are happening in the head that is left alone. 

Painting was never my main medium. It is one of the languages that I speak to spread the suggestion of the parallel reality world or call it a surreal world. Less verbal, more intuitive. Painting has the entertaining factor to it, while the videos or some of the conceptual works that I do are like a fall in the music piece when the melody drops from “major” to “minor” and puts one in a melancholic mood.  Painting is a basic language, an old form of expression. I love it.

 Can you tell us about your experience as an Azerbaijani artist living and working in Berlin? How has this influenced your artistic style and subject matter?

The place where you begin your life journey – first your house, then your street, then your city, and so on, shapes you, it gives you a perspective on the world. Everything I see now, everything I experience, first goes through the folder in my brain that is called “home”, a 5-year-old me on a sofa, it processes there and then goes to the other more advanced parts of the institution of my head. I guess that’s why my hair is so curly, it’s the overloaded wires. So I carry this Home wherever I go, like a snail. It is important that the artist must not be attached to geographical matters, and it certainly helps to be away. There were the times I was living in China, the conception of a home being the center of the universe evaporated there. Now I am in Germany, and I clearly know that anyone born here has a German perspective on the world just like I have my Azerbaijani one, which I do not suppress. The theme is lingering in my artworks, I don’t force it and I don’t resist it. It is what it is.

What themes or ideas do you often explore in your paintings? Are there any specific cultural or personal influences that inspire your work?

I am very much fascinated by “happiness” or feeling “good”. We are moving through the age of massive hysteria, when things are speeding up, so much information from all over the world, catastrophes that you would not normally find out about 30 years ago, now with the internet you know too many events of suffering. A problem is cultivated, is respected. A good times event, good news is overlooked, lightness is considered to be a vulgarity, shallowness. So I do explore the ideas of moving through the times of information and finding a good spot during these times. 

studio impressions  by Johannes Pol

 Could you walk us through your creative process? How do you typically approach a new painting, from conception to completion?

I love talking to people. All sorts of people. Everywhere. I gather the stories, then I dive into my head with them, experiencing some silence, while I am in a tram that goes to I don’t know where or walking on the sand somewhere,  I glue the stories into a shabby magazine, then I turn the pages and I find pictures in between.

In your opinion, what is the significance of figurative and surrealist art in today’s contemporary art scene? How does it allow you to express your artistic vision and connect with your audience?

It is certainly one of the most digestible genres. Even if one can not relate to what is going on there on the canvas, at least there are familiar forms, that may lead the viewer to create his own story, often very interesting variations on what you suggested there, sometimes nothing to do with your idea but still beautiful.  

Tora by Johannes Pol 

 Have you faced any challenges or obstacles as a female artist in the art industry? How do you navigate them and stay motivated to pursue your artistic goals?

I have my ups and downs. I don’t have a fashion to blame it on my gender. I know many females who are doing great, I know males who do worse than me. There is so much in the art world that is based on luck. My luck is like a cat. When I move and make some steps to attract it, it may come my way, sometimes it’s just being a lazy cat and won’t move, then I just keep doing whatever attracts it and the cat will come your way at some point. It is a matter of having enough treats to offer. Nothing comes easily.

What are your aspirations and plans for the future? Are there any upcoming projects or exhibitions we can look forward to?

A Solo show in Baku this September on the topic of shiny screens, pretty objects, and hybrids.

And in Berlin during the art week in Schoeneberg, it’s the first week of November, a gallery “Under The Mango Tree” will be showing my solo where I concentrate on private paradise moments. Let us not be so discreet about the beauty of the moment. Our life is made of seconds, each one can be beautiful.


For more news from Tora on her instagram 

studio impressions 

In Conversation with Mari Foggy | а Düsseldorf based artist


I am a self-taught artist, and my passion for art began in my childhood. I have vivid memories of spending countless hours in art class during primary school, where my teacher allowed me to stay late and explore various art styles. This creative environment became my place of freedom and comfort.

At the age of 16, I discovered oil painting and attended art courses. During this time, I found myself drawn to the works of great artists such as Monet, van Gogh, and Sisley. Their impressionist styles resonated deeply with my emotional nature, allowing me to express myself and my feelings. Next 5 years were dedicated to replicating their masterpieces and immersing myself in the world of color and emotion.

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Unleashing the Abstract Beauty of Botanics | A Q & A with Tina Mona Cohen


Text by Irina Rusinovich 

Unleashing the Abstract Beauty of Botanics | A Q & A with Tina Mona Cohen

Born in 1988 in the south of France, Tina Mona is a self-taught French artist living for 6 years in Germany where she has her atelier. Always deeply attracted and connected to the cultural world, she first managed artistic and cultural projects before she decided to trust her creative talent and fully live her artistic vocation.  Her work is deeply inspired by nature but also a meditative way to express herself. 

Always experimenting with different techniques, she mixes media such as acrylic, oil painting, gold leaves, and resin, allowing her to play with the light and give her artwork a sense of vibrancy and life. 

After a solo exhibition in Paris in 2022, Tina Mona is participating 2023 in multiple group exhibitions in Germany. Her works will be also shown at the collective Art Exhibition “ WILD SOULS“ starting 22.06. We decided to ask Tina a few questions about her background and arts!

What inspired you to incorporate botanical themes into your abstract artwork in the first place?

Nature is both all around us and deep within us, we are inseparable from it. However, too often we forget our connection to our own inner nature and get drowned by the troubles of the world. After experiencing a deep trauma, art helped me to rebuild myself and painting became a mediative way to learn how to be true to my real nature.
I want my art to remind every viewer that we should respect the nature all around us but also the nature within us and raise awareness about mental Health.

How do you approach incorporating organic elements such as leaves, flowers, and other materials into your pieces?

I find a lot of inspiration in nature. During long walks in the forest, I try to practice mindfulness and to be aware of the nature around me and that´s when I really absorbed a lot of inspiration. I am often inspired by the colors of unusual elements like the inside of a stone, a broken branch, the moss on the trees, the movements of the leaves, and the reflection of the sun… Nature brings me a lot of joy and comfort and intuitively it finds its way into my painting.

Do you have any particular botanical motifs or themes that frequently appear in your abstract works?

Through my painting, I invite the viewer to a peaceful walk in the forest where he could contemplate the vegetation above him, and feel nature in movement and the reflection of the light in it.

© Tina Mona Cohen 

How do you balance the organic forms of botanical elements with the more abstract forms that characterize much of your work?

I apply multiple layers of paint, notably light shades of white, which manage to maintain a lightness, a weightlessness in my representations of shapes and colors that end up being quite buoyant. I often mix media in my painting using acrylic, and oil paint but also gold leaves and epoxy. This gives me the possibility to play with the light and give the artwork a sense of vibrancy and life.


Can you describe your process for developing the color palettes used in your work, especially those inspired by flora and fauna?

When I am painting, I enter a meditative state, I will not have a predefined pattern, but I am simply focusing on the colors. Rather than trying to make shapes, I focus on a small number of colors that I want to use, then just place dots onto the canvas with my paintbrush before using the brush to swirl these dots into one another, letting totally my intuition guide my painting. Often, I use different shades of blue colors as a reference to my Mediterranean roots.

© Tina Mona Cohen 

Have you noticed any changes in how viewers interpret your work when botanical themes are present as opposed to when they are absent?

Botanical themes are speaking to everybody and the abstract side of my painting help to build a connection with the viewer and leaves room for interpretation.


Do you have any plans for future explorations of botanical themes in your work, or any plans to change your approach?

I always love to experiment with new techniques and media, that’s helping me to constantly develop my work. The only limit is my creativity!

I am currently working on developing relief effects and transparency in my art. I am experimenting with resin, and trying to incorporate paint directly in multiple layers of epoxy creating artwork on the border between painting and sculpture.


Follow Tina on Instagram for her updates and news! 

© Tina Mona Cohen 

A STUDIO VISIT: Exploring the artistic process with Marina Koldobskaya


Text by Irina Rusinovich 

A STUDIO VISIT: Exploring the artistic process with Marina Koldobskaya

Can you tell us about your creative process, from the moment you come up with an idea to the finished painting?

I have a number of motifs that are important to me, which I have been working on for many years. These are motifs that express something important, something basic to human beings. They have become stamps, mastered by popular culture, and I work with these stamps.

The red bull, for example, means power, masculine intensity, and aggression, but also a sacrifice, meat. It is with human beings from the Paleolithic cave to the label on the bottle of wine „Bull’s blood. Or the rose. It has been painted for thousands of years because it is a vagina, a symbol of seduction, desire, and pleasure. Blue flowers mean peace, oblivion, and heaven.

The cat and mouse – murderer and victim, nature’s indifference, „life is life.“

I do not paint real things, I try to create a kind of sign, a symbol of the experiences they evoke, to express visually Plato’s idea of these things.

Cézanne once said that painting is thinking with a brush in hand. That’s how I stand over my canvases or papers with a brush and ponder. I make endless versions, variations, and transformations… I repaint, and start over to make the image more precise, and more expressive. And simpler. It’s very difficult to make it simple. It is like calligraphy – you have to practice it for a long time, for years, in order to complete your artwork very quickly, with a few spontaneous movements, easily, powerfully, and beautifully. I am not afraid of beauty, unlike many artists today. Plato’s idea has to be beautiful.

Photo Credit / Johannes Pol 

How do you integrate or address environmental and social themes in your artwork?

The themes come by themselves. There’s the war that Russia runs against Ukraine, it’s horrible, people are dying, and my paintings are getting red, just streams of blood flooding the paintings. And there is a lot of black. And I also started painting people. Before, people as such were not my subject. Of course, my flowers and animals were anthropomorphic, but that was about the unity of all creation, the reflection of everything in everything.

And now in my works, people are exactly people, human beings, as they are. They are alive, wounded, dead, singly, in crowds, whole, and torn into pieces…

Can you walk us through a current project you’re working on and share your goals for the piece?

My latest series is about humans being a sick, insane animals. A crazy ape with a gun…

We are creatures who have created a brave new world and don’t know what to do with it. Scared to death of ourselves. People are simultaneously building a bright future and tearing themselves back into the cave. It seems that people today are losing ground under their feet faster than they are finding new ground.

I left Russia, and I last year was working on a series Migrants. It’s about the loss or change of identity, of homeland, of destiny.

The series I’m doing now has no name yet, for myself, I call it Primates for now. They are such incomprehensible creatures, like monkeys, or dolls, or children, or monsters… and at the same time, their composition should refer to recognizable examples of high art.

Marina Koldobskaya and Irina Rusinovich , Photo Credit / Johannes Pol 

What role do you think art plays in society, and how do you hope your work contributes to that dialogue?

For several months now, my colleagues and I have been preparing a joint exhibition of women artists from Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia, it calls Heartbeat, at Wolf&Galentz gallery. Finding like-minded people was not easy, many friends said that in today’s atmosphere of mutual hatred and suspicion, we would be eaten alive.  And that there would simply be no artists who would agree to participate.

But I think it’s very important to do an exhibition like this, precisely because it’s an attempt to confront the hatred that’s all around us. And I’m very glad we have found like-minded people and support from the gallery, we help and support each other, we are our own authors and curators, we decide everything together, and we cooperate despite the war – this is the most important result.

Photo Credit / Johannes Pol 

What are some upcoming projects or shows you’re most excited about?

This is the „Heartbeat“ exhibition I mentioned earlier.

Now people are overwhelmed with pain, it has to find a way out. It has been a year of horror, shame, despair, waiting, hope… None of us has ever had this experience of collective distress. Different artists look for different ways to express these experiences in their art. Straightforward experiences are long forgotten – crying, wailing, praying – are returning to art now. Perhaps it’s a bit awkward and even ugly, now is not the time for good taste and finesse.

I don’t think art is capable of fully embracing this experience at once. A new aesthetic will come, it’s already coming. It’s impossible for an artist to do anything else these days. For me for sure.


Follow Marina at FB  and Instagram 

Interview with Vadim Vasilis


Vadim Vasilis  /photo , Issa Tall /   text,  Irina Rusinovich

Interview with the Paris-based model Vadim Vasilis
What does it take to be a model today? How does one get there, how does one keep fit and stay inspired? We have talked to Vadim Vasilis, a French-Greek model in Paris, about what drives him, and what he is working on at the moment
What made you want to become a model?

I came back from Bulgaria where I was doing a training course before the soccer season, in full questioning and psychological fatigue, I returned to Greece, where I realized that I had reached my limits concerning my career in soccer.

When I came back, I told myself that I was going to refocus on my goals, and it was at that moment, during a party in Greece, that a lady asked me if I was interested in fashion and I confess that I had never thought about it before. From then on, my view on what I wanted to do with my life changed, I said to myself why not, I wanted to change my life, I was no longer happy in what I was doing in the past, I was tired and worn out of this life while another one opened its arms to me.

Vadim Vasilis, photo Fabien Caudy

Being an international model, how has your life changed? 

I’m just starting out, whether it’s international or not, I for one haven’t seen or experienced anything, I still have everything to prove, but regardless you have to give it your best shot.

I suppose that the international would make me spend more time in transport and that I would have to work more on my dark circles with the jet lag.

No more jokes, the international induces the knowledge of the habits and customs of the different countries I will travel to in order to adapt myself, but always in the spirit of staying true to who I am.


You are from Greece, what are your 3 favorite places in your country and why?

My mountain in the Peloponese, a dry, arid place in the middle of nowhere, without any comfort. I lived there for part of my childhood with my grandparents. It is an isolated, rustic place with a mystical atmosphere, it is where everything started for me, I was marked by this period of my life and it is the basis of what I embody today.

 The various creeks near the family village in the Argolid I learned to swim, to fish following the example of my father who fished octopus, various fish and shellfish with his harpoon. In the evening, we would stay by the sea in a „caliva“, a small wooden hut that a close friend of my father had, where we would grill our catch of the day while watching the sun set.

The family village in Greece had this summer atmosphere, where we ate meals together, where I was constantly invited to eat everywhere, an active lifestyle, from getting up in the morning where I liked to go with my uncles, to the goats and sheep in the mountains, to our time spent at the beach. Soccer games would be set up when the temperature started to drop, then going home, showering outside with the hose, and finally going for a walk in the evening.

Vadim Vasilis, photo Issa Tall

How do you maintain your physique?

Sport and a healthy lifestyle!  I mainly do cardio to lengthen the muscles and draw on stored fat, I supplement a little with muscle strengthening.

My background in sports allows me to know what I need to work on. But for the time being, I do a lot less weight training than before, the goal is to be slim but not thick, so for that I exercise with much lighter weights. And I do long sets.

What brand would you like to work with in the future?

Very interesting question! There are a lot of artists I would like to work with:

Marine Serre for her esoteric and mystical touch

Balenciaga for the underground side

Jean-Paul Gaultier because he manages to make harmonious what is scattered.

But many others, Vivienne Westwood, undercover, Ambush, in fact I have so many brands that correspond to my way of being and my universe, even young designers that many ignore for the moment, but who are so talented.

We all have our difficulties to accomplish our goals, what are yours?

My impatience above all.

I admit that I am a difficult character to understand, I am my true and proper enemy, but also my true and proper brother. Everything is paradoxical about me.

I am a character who is always thinking, intense, and complicated to temper, my sensitivity often has the upper hand on me, but I will manage to tame it.

Vadim Vasilis, photo Raphael de l´Orme

Can you tell us the funniest or most interesting anecdote that happened to you since you became a model ?

That’s not a simple question, because there is really a lot of intensity in this business, so much movement, everything is ephemeral except, of course, some of the encounters you can make, but unfortunately I don’t have anything else that comes to mind right now.

You have a lot of tattoos, tell us about your three favorites.

I do have a lot of tattoos, all of them have their meaning, but it’s my secret garden 😉

I remain very mysterious and modest about some things concerning me, I reveal myself with time to people who inspire me, I trust my intuition, however my body is a rebus, when you know a little my life, my essence, you can try to play with what you see, but I remain intimate.

Is it an obstacle to have so many tattoos on your body as a model?

Yes and no, it depends on the artistic direction, the designer, the work required. It can be a brake as the opposite, but it is the game, after that it depends also on what you give off as energy, it is a whole. But you need something for everyone, you just have to be subtle.

What is your work rhythm at the moment?

Intense, at the very moment I’m writing this interview, I’m on various things at the same time, it’s not easy, you have to be organized and of course very well accompanied and I thank Nadine Dinter who takes care of my image today, who is there for me, who helps me, supports me, gives me a lot of advice, I thank life for having put Nadine on my way, it’s an encounter from elsewhere and I think we will be brought to collaborate for a long time on several projects.

             Vadim for @stephanethakid Paris 2022                                                                                                                           Paris 2022Vadim for @gillesasq, Paris 2022

How do you relax?

It is difficult for a hyperactive person like me to relax…

I’m always thinking about different things, I always have ideas in my head, I’m full of desire and energy, to go ahead, to work, to do sports, to discover, so to relax is not an easy task, even when I take a break I feel like I’m wasting my time.

But I will have time to relax when I have accomplished what I have to accomplish…

For the moment I am in full work, no time to sleep.

What are your current/upcoming projects?

I have a lot of projects going on: magazines, advertising campaigns, fashion week to prepare. It’s an environment where you have to be reactive at the moment…

The universe is vast, it’s up to me to make the right choices and to be receptive and attentive to the signs of life.

Follow Vadim on IG at @vadimvasilis

Interview with photographer Alexander Platz


Text by Lyubov Melnickowa

Interview with photographer Alexander Platz

Tell us a little about yourself. As an art photographer, you have a very unusual background. Please tell our readers more about it.

My name is Alexander Platz and I was born in Berlin. In 1984, when I was nineteen, I joined the Berlin police force. At the time, I had no exposure to art whatsoever. I loved the training and the job, because I enjoyed working with people back then, too.

My first encounter with creative work came in the nineties, when I wrote novels and short stories, as a kind of contest, with friends who worked as actors. This is also how I got started working as a consultant, training actors for their roles, while still continuing my police work. One of my friends was the antagonist in the police series “Die Wache”. Later, I completed a project on “Operational Training for the Berlin Riot Police”. Here, I was the idea generator, scriptwriter and director, and was responsible for the production and presentation of a 15-minute film about the results.

In the meantime, as a fully fledged police officer, I devoted several years to pursuing my conventional career with the police. In 2004, after a work-related accident (resulting in post-traumatic stress disorder), I found my way to photography, quite by chance. I fought against the trauma-related flashbacks by taking photos that formed new images in my head and helped me find my way back to my emotions. I had absolutely no idea about photographic techniques and wasn’t interested in them. I just wanted to take photos, and was on the „hunt for my inner self“. During this time, I only learned the techniques that I really needed. My pictures from this period always had a sombre aspect. My works included portraits, nudes, erotic studies, dance photography at the Friedrichstadt-Palast revue theatre in Berlin, and portraits of boxers. Sometimes, I think I’ve always been searching for human biographies, encounters and experiences through my work, to learn more about life.

Upcycling Fashion

In 2016, it occurred to me that with my people photography I’d dabbled in just about everything except fashion. I’m not a fan of talking about things that I’ve never delved into before. So the first thing I did was start researching, and I emersed myself in this via YouTube. I asked myself how I could combine fashion photography with my interest in people and their expression.

Because I want to be independent in my work, I decided to go against the traditional path of working with designers and stylists.  I wanted to develop my own interpretation of people and fashion in my photographic world and find my personal visual language.

By happy chance, I stumbled upon a documentary about “anti-fashion” and “grunge”. I’m also a big fan of the English “mod” subculture and its development through to today. There are many facets of the world of fashion that can be traced back to these influences. I could identify with a lot of this, since my own style of dress and my lifestyle are based on this subculture. And so, the idea of using this as a starting point began to grow.

As I browsed through Berlin’s second-hand shops and bought clothes; I learned everything I could about what interested me and about fashion. I used, and still do use, international magazines, YouTube documentaries, books and interviews. And then I started the photographic work. This is how the visual language and aesthetics that I still use today came into being.

At the same time, I was also working on my “My Japanese Faction” project. Here, I was able to process my fascination with Japanese aesthetics, my enthusiasm for Yoshi Yamamoto, Nobuyoshi Araki, Takeshi Kitano and the Japanese samurai period. My fascination is fuelled by the pervasive interaction between the exterior and the internal feelings in Japanese history and the present day.

All these experiences come together in my current upcycling project: “Fairy Tale Dreams”.

In 2010, I left the police force and focussed entirely on photography and art. 

As a self-taught artist, I was admitted to the Professional Association of Visual Artists Berlin (bbk) in 2019, and so recognised as a professional artist.

In the meantime, I find it artistically exciting and fulfilling to blend all aspects of photography, art and design.

My current project, “Fairy Tale Dreams”, is the canvas for this. Here, everything flows together. Photography, fashion, upcycling design, and painting for set design.

All of this is what led me to take part in the Haze Bazaar in March 2023.

Upcycling Fashion

From 1993 to 1996, you studied public law at the Berlin School of Economics and Law. Why didn’t you opt to study art? Do you have plans to do this in the future? Do you think that a photographer needs some kind of formal education?

My studies took place while I was still active in the police force and they served to advance my police career. I had no involvement with photography or art at the time. However, a lot of what I learned was, and continues to be, useful to me in my artistic development. Organisation, research and scientific work are all brought to bear in my development. I used these skills to work my way into every topic, and I came up with results on both a rational and emotional level. Actually, it was a self-organised course of study.

This has both advantages and disadvantages. The network and content that a traditional art course offers were missing. I work hard on this, however, in parallel to my actual work. On the other hand, my actual degree, and also my work as a teacher at the police academy, are an advantage when it comes to structured planning and communication with my project partners and the preparation of exhibitions.   

But doing a traditional course in art or photography was something that never occurred to me. My medium, photography, and the development of the internet made it possible for me to choose my own direction and to evolve. These days, I’m so deeply involved in my development that I won’t take a university degree course.

I think that training or a degree in photography can be important. It’s good if someone is interested in that and goes ahead with it. Photography and art are so extensive that you can learn many things that you won’t learn if you’re self-taught. On the other hand, teaching yourself allows you to determine everything yourself and to put all your energy into pursuing your own ideas and dreams.

But, whether you choose the classical or the autodidactic path, a good foundation of discipline is necessary to keep moving forward and learning. 

I think it’s great that today we have the option of choosing our own path.      

Your work depicts women. Why women? Do you think it’s easier to convey the beauty of a female image in photography than a male one?

I do photograph men, too, such as dancers, boxers, actors and other creative people. 

But my main focus in on working with women. For me, they symbolise the very origin of life. In many of my fashion works, you can see the female breast. This isn’t so much erotic as symbolic of this aspect of women’s lives as a beginning and as self-confidence, and it supports the overall expression of the works. Women are closer to their emotions and more courageous in interpreting and displaying them when working in front of the camera. Our work together is mostly a “dance”, in that there aren’t many set poses. In fashion photography, I apply the experience I gained in dance and boxing photography. For me, it’s a search for that “unexpected moment”.  We follow each other. And in doing so, we challenge each other in our respective roles. It’s a highly concentrated process. Quite often, I’m physically and mentally exhausted after a photo shoot. This way of working together so freely is what gives the photographs the special expression that reflects my idea of beauty, aesthetics and female self-confidence. I love this process.

With men, the projects are also very intensive, but working with women is closer to my heart and more fulfilling.

Upcycling Fashion

Your works have a certain style. How did this style take shape?

Because my first steps in photography were taken alone and without any rules, I was initially particularly fascinated by the Surrealists and Dadaists of the 1920s and their approach to images. The freedom of Dadaism and Surrealism gave me space to experiment and develop. The expression and effect of a work were more important to me than the classical photographic process. The camera is, and remains, simply a kind of pen or brush that I can use to capture whatever fascinates me. It was in 2007, when I worked on a project in the Friedrichstadt-Palast in Berlin with the ensemble, that the idea of the “unexpected moment” took hold of me for the first time. That fraction of a second, in which you capture the perfect position in a sequence of movement. Thanks to my “stage photography”, I learned to “feel” or anticipate the moment just before this perfect position and to take that shot. I continued to improve this skill in my later work in boxing.

A further aspect, here, is my continuous learning. During my many years of research and image analysis, I found my own style. One of my self-selected “professors” was the celebrated Diana Vreeland. She said: “The eye has to travel!” To paraphrase: as a photographer, you can be anything but don’t be boring!

All these various aspects allowed me to find my style. I’m curious about how it will continue to develop and excited to see where the next few years will take me.

What’s the most important aspect of photography for you?

The freedom to realise and portray my ideas. To give them a material form. In preparation and implementation as well as in the subsequent retouching. It always moves me forward and allows me to learn more in order to express my feelings. Here, I’m guided only by myself. I reject all forms of dogma and ideology. I celebrate self-fulfilment through the freedom of art.

And I love meeting and working with people.

You teach photography at the Community College Berlin Treptow Köpenick. What motivated you to start teaching?

Since I’ve dedicated myself to artistic photography and have never undertaken any commercial work, ensuring the financial viability of my projects is a major issue. Teaching allowed me to earn part of my budget. I knew from my past endeavours that teaching was something I enjoyed. So, as well as benefitting from the financial aspect, I found the teaching very stimulating and a distraction from everyday life.

These courses also give me an incentive to keep learning and to keep evaluating the courses. My students include both amateurs and professionals. In the lessons, their thoughts also provide me with new perspectives. It’s a give and take situation for all concerned.

All this motivates me, time and time again.

What do you think is the most important thing students can learn from your lessons?

The world of photography and art is so multifarious. I introduce them to my world of photography, my ideas and my imagination, to expand their vision. There’s no right or wrong. It’s all about their development. “Why do I take photographs?” “What subject really interests me?” “How can I follow my chosen path?” “How can I find and maintain enjoyment in it?”

I try to expand their outlook, to arouse their curiosity.

To link everything together and not to think one-sidedly in genres.

I’d like them to leave the course with a sense of great curiosity and freedom and to follow their own personal path.

As I’ve been teaching since 2018, I’ve received quite a bit of feedback over the years. My students love this approach. Some of them keep coming back to my courses because they can’t find anything with similar content and they want to keep learning.

Do your works have a message? What thoughts do you want them to evoke?

That’s a difficult question. Because my works are always a result of my current thoughts, feelings and inspirations. And the interpretation of the performer is usually a factor, too. 

I don’t think I aim to evoke any particular thoughts. It’s more a matter of emotional reactions and interpretation. Thoughts tend to take second place here.

Each of us has a different biography, world of experience, and interpretation. This is why I’d like viewers to feel an emotional connection to the work in the first instance. This could be positive or negative. The most important thing is the emotional reaction.

Here, too, I work from the premise of the freedom of the individual. I’m always delighted when viewers share their reactions with me and we can discuss them.

Tell us about your creative plans for the future? 

I want to continue developing my “Fairy Tale Project”. There’s still so much to discover there. At the moment, I’m working with Islamic women on a project about Islamic fashion and the “hijab”.

Every day, a new idea materialises, and I write it down in a small book. 

I’m also heavily involved in the current discussion about nudity in art and the public arena. For me, a tendency toward restriction is emerging, moving toward a “phase of apparent moral prudishness”.

I have a project in mind, which would involve exploring this and would bring together and interpret the aspects of nude photography, erotic photography and pornography on an artistic level. 

The working title is “Por-nu-graphy?!”, derived from the terms pornography and nude. But these works, too, will take a subtle rather than an “in your face” approach.

And then, I’m always busy interpreting my ideas on the English subculture of the sixties and seventies in photographic terms.

So, I still have quite a lot of plans and hope to be able to bring them all to fruition.

Interview with a petite model – Yvonne


Photo: Dominik Wolf

Text: Lyubov Melnickowa

Interview with a petite model - Yvonne
Please tell us a little about yourself. At what point did you decide that you wanted to become a model? How did your modeling career start?
Being a model for me means being creative. As I ́ve always been a person with a love for creativity, aesthetics, fashion and faces, living the model life has always attracted me. I started my career around two years ago with my first shooting which was a beauty shooting with an amazing photographer. I still love to work with her today and she had a really great impact on me and my career, because she always had useful tips and recommendations and really sees the uniqueness of each model she works with. Since then I have learned to get to know the industry better and was able to gain experiences and build a network step by step.
What does your normal day look like?
What I love about my life – no day looks like the other. I spend some days of my week at different sets and locations in different cities, some days I am at home doing sports, reading or planning the next trips or jobs and other days I am at my university or study for my different courses. I feel really thankful that I am able to live a life that is this colourful and diverse and that I am allowed to always meet inspiring people and visit amazing places, as well as having the privilege to study in Munich.

Photo: Mariia Ziva

Photo: Alessa

Photo: Ambra Alessi

You are studying medicine, at the same time shootings takes a lot of time and effort. How do you combine work of the model and study?
I think being organized and prioritizing what is important to you is key. I always try to keep my calendar updated and try to be as time efficient as possible. Of course it doesn’t always work out and I had some job I couldn’t do as a model, because of an important exam or course. Even though it sometimes is stressful, I wouldn’t want to change a thing, because for me both is important in order to keep the balance between creativity and science.
What can you tell us about the competition among models.
Modeling is a really competitive business. Of course everyone wants to book the job or get signed by their favourite agency. I learned to take nothing personal real quick. There’s also a lot of rejection and criticism, which is not always only constructive. But I always try to learn something from it and move on. Maybe you’ve heard some model coaches preach you shouldn’t make modeling your personality and I totally agree with that.
What difficulties have you encountered while working as a model? Was there a desire to quit everything?
For me it was and sometimes still is difficult to be booked, especially for fashion jobs or magazines as a petite model. The industry is changing and getting more diverse to some degree, nonetheless especially in the field of high fashion there are very specific requirements. But quitting was never an option for me! I love being a model and I think if you work hard, don’t let yourself get dragged down and believe in yourself and the universe, everything will work out for you the way it ́s supposed to be.

Photo: Yuliia

Photo: Rafi Glaser / Lilith Kampffmeyer

Photo: Mariia Ziva

You mentioned that you are a petite model. How tall are you? Have you faced refusals at castings due to height?

I am only 1,60m and growing up I always wanted to be taller. Nowadays I am used to it and if I ́d have the chance to change my height I honestly wouldn’t. Even though it is harder to prove yourself as a petite model, in my opinion, it is not impossible. I would love to see the industry change more and be more open and supportive towards petite models.

Are you taking any actions to show that petite models can also be successful?

I would love to be part of one of the next fashion weeks. I think Berlin Fashion Week is a bit more open to diversity than Milan or New York for example. There are a lot of designers who could really make a change. It would be a great honor for me to walk in one of the upcoming shows for example for Rebekka Ruetz. I watched her shows and she had a really diverse selection of models!

What does success in your modeling career mean to you?

Success to me means to be able to live by my principles and values. The most important value to me is happiness. Currently I am really thankful that I am able to work as a model and that it is fulfilling for me. Another principle of mine is that I want to always learn from and work with the best, so I have a list of inspiring photographers, designers, magazines etc. which of whom I would love to work with such as Philipp Plein or Natascha Lindemann. And of course – propbably every model dreams of that- being part of the Victoria ́s secret fashion show for sure! They didn ́t have any petite models yet, so why not start now?

Photo: Annsolie

Photo: Annsolie

Photo: Annsolie

What advice would you give to aspiring models?
To never give up! I think resilience and perseverance are two of the most important character traits you need as a model. If you give 110% everyday you cannot and will not fail. It will be a long and probably sometimes hard way, but it will always be worth it. Just stay true to yourself.

Interview with designer KERIMA ELFAZA


Text: Lyubov Melnickowa

Interview with designer KERIMA ELFAZA

Thank you for taking time for an den interview with us! Before asking questions about the brand, I would like to learn more about the designer and founder of the brand KERIMA ELFAZA.

Tell a little about yourself. How did your creative path begin and why did you decide to become a fashion designer?

From an early age on, I was not only fascinated by fashion. I have loved drawing, colours, shapes, patterns and materials since I can remember. I knew I was about to build my life around this. If you take a look at my designs you can see that I love to experiment with different colours. In my working process I reconsider, reorder, and redraw everything many times until I have a feeling of satisfaction of what I came up with.

My brand is not only exclusively a fashion brand. Often my designs are exhibited in art galleries or shown in performances. I love to think of myself as an independent designer who works in different media.

What does fashion mean in your understanding?

It‘s a way to express myself. It‘s about identity. Growing up in a german/arabic family was not easy for me. My creative side got pushed down my whole childhood and I am still struggling sometimes with the feeling of not being enough or being too much. My desire to work with fashion and art always kept me in between these worlds. Fashion should not only be aesthetically appealing and innovative. In my opinion it should also serve as a medium of communication to discuss current and relevant topics in society. Fashion is intertwined with culture, origins, history and zeitgeist.

Tell us a little about the brand. At what point did the idea of creating a brand come up?

There was no ‚exact‘ moment or point where it all started. I have been starting to exhibit and present my work in galleries, shows and competitions like the „European Fashion Award“ (FASH) already, during my studies at art school. In that time, I started presenting my work on social media, got an invite to a variety of events like fashion shoots, shows, performances, exhibitions and pop-up stores. I have been very grateful for these opportunities, but it has been a lot of work to be recognized with my brand.

I started using 3D scans, 3D printing and digital prints on my fabrics in my BA. I developed more digital printed jewellery and concepts for digital print on textile while working on exhibitions.

As a rule, a clothing brand is a large team that takes part in the creation of collections. How many people are in the brand team and what are the responsibilities of the chief designer?

You could say I am a 1-Person army creating my collections. I work on the designs, create prototypes, handcraft and digitalize, as well as producing the clothing. I have a huge passion for manipulating textile surfaces and since I moved to Bremen I also started casting my own jewellery.

Of course it takes a whole team to realize ideas and projects. I usually work with a video producer, digital artists, make up artists, dancers & performers. Participating in an exhibition also requires communicating with curators to finalize the vision of my brand.

How would you describe the brand’s style?

My idea is that collections should not appear just pleasing and wearable, rather sending the message to provoke. I have more of an artistic perspective on fashion. Whether I press „garbage“ onto jeans or let crystals grow on fabric, behind every artistic exploration in material, there is always a hidden social critical message. Personalized clothing as a specific and interdisciplinary art form and jewellery opens up the opportunity to celebrate everybody’s uniqueness.

Now many brands are for environmental friendliness and recycling. What materials does the KERIMA ELFAZA brand use? What principles do you adhere to when creating clothes?

I love digital printing, especially on silk, using foil and 3D prints. For the future I will no longer require digital prints produced in metered fabrics. I want to use screen printing and use bacteria that can grow the colours. Working with the Clo3D (a digital fashion programm) will increase sustainability by reducing the production of prototypes and it also allows an open discussion with customers online.

My 3D prints are made exclusively out of recycled polyamide. I am trying to develop more sustainable ways to produce 3D printed garments and accessories. Also I like the combination of the technology of 3D printing and traditional craftingship with aluminium and bronze.

Who is the KERIMA ELFAZA brand for? Can you describe its target audience?

It‘s not directly specifically designed for a certain stereotype or cliche that many big brands work with. My brand shows the diversity of people, no matter their size, age, ethnic background or gender identity. 

My latest collection, „SECOND_SCAN“ has a very personal reference for standing up for yourself, making your own change, no matter who you are or that you’re not fitting into any categories.

KERIMA ELFAZA  is a well-known brand in Bremen, Germany. Would you like the brand to exist on the world market in the future?

It‘s a big goal and a dream of mine to present my brand internationally. As an artist I am already present at several events, for example I will be participating at a fashion festival in the Netherlands this year. 

I am always researching new techniques to push my brand and level up.

How would you describe today’s fashion and what feelings does evoke in you? 

I see the same problems in fashion, as well as in the food industry. Who consumes should take responsibility. The consumer’s awareness is increasing, but at the same time the  textile waste is also piling up. The issues of the broader concept of diversity, gender equality, animal welfare and sustainability must continuously evolve. We are not at the end of our rope yet. Innovative ideas of young designers who are deeply concerned about the production chain of materials need to be further explored and developed. I am trying to deal with these issues in my work process.

My first collection „Is(s) mir Wurst“, like „eat sausage“ which means „I don‘t care“, and my second collection „Kopyright“ have been both clever, ironic, ambivalent puns to openly criticize mass consumption. The protection of intellectual property constitutes an imperative in the age of Instagram and TikTok, in order to be able to preserve artistic design in the fashion industry. „Kopyright“ combines an explicit cross reference to „fast fashion“, by challenging plagiarism of discount clothing stores. While „Is(s) mir Wurst“, denounces societies opulent and careless consumption of meat. As source of my inspiration served a native east german provincial butcher, whose meat products I literally scanned and subsequently printo onto the fabrics.

Interview with Victoria Rosenman


Text: Irina Rusinovich

Interview with Victoria Rosenman

Art is an essential aspect of human life that has been around since ancient times. It is a form of expression that enables artists to capture emotions and ideas using different mediums. Today, we have had the chance to interview one of such artist, Victoria Rosenman, whose work has captured the attention of many collectors and art lovers over time. With a multidisciplinary approach to her art, she has managed to create pieces that demand attention and force the viewer to think beyond the surface. In this interview, we will have the privilege of stepping into her world, where we will learn the intricacies of her creative process, inspirations, and the motivations behind her work.

How did you come up with the title for the exhibition, and what does it mean to you?

„I will be on time“ – is a statement and revelation on my part. I like to refer to punctuality as my personal superpower, a quality that offers me illusionary security and order. As I wrote in my earlier texts, I manifest illusions – time, as a phenomenon, is also one of them for me. Moreover, there is a certain irony and uncertainty to the title because I do not say „where“ I will arrive on time. „What role does my destination play in relation to intangible time?“ – That is what I ask myself and at the same time I also have concerns about „my being on the road“.

Can you describe your working process, how do you start creating and, in particular, the choice of the medium?

Due to many events in the world and in my private life, I wanted to take another look at my fears and desires. I started a kind of self-study that took me back to my childhood to dismantle my current self-image in a good sense. So, I started to create images, write down texts and the appropriate final form became more and more visible.

I work in multimedia. And this time it was especially important to me to show my thoughts and convictions in the form of a text. Words that can be read directly, that are understandable, uncompromising. The texts can be seen as „Copper Announcements“. It is a series in which I record statements on copper. This material is one of the oldest and the first mirrors were made of it. I reflect myself with it. Of course, I continue to use photography as my familiar medium. Texts and photos are created over a longer period in different places.

Do you have a favourite or most meaningful work in the series?

I think they all work and interact together. I wanted to create a togetherness that gives visions. The works are very personal this time – it’s not about people and their feelings in general, as it used to be with my „Muses Project“, but directly about me and my family.

What/Who are your key influences for this series?

It is personal experiences, my father and the time that scares me.

How do you go about choosing the subjects and scenes for your art?

They are mostly intuitions. I don’t directly research the next possible exciting topic. I deal strictly with what interests me, regardless of whether it might be boring for others – this is the only way I feel free in my creative process.

So, it can be a dream in the night that I want to process in my art or a person or a thing suddenly inspires me to new concepts. Fortunately, I have many funny and absurd thoughts in my head and the settings and themes quickly find their aesthetic.

How has your practice evolved in recent years?

New materials were added, more objects, new themes and, of course, exciting places to work.

When can we see it life?

I and my gallerist Irina Rusinovich are very happy to welcome everyone to the opening of my solo show at the Hazegallery on 11 May. The Hazegallery & I have been working on this exhibition for a long time and are very excited to meet and have a nice evening with everyone who is interested. You are cordially invited!