23 Apr Other ways of communicating: Alena Zhandarova
I feel blessed to meet up (over email, but still) with yet another talented, young photographer. Alena Zhandarova, born in 1988 (same day as Jesus Christ, she adds), comes from the far east of Russia, almost on the border of China. Since her early childhood she noticed the ability in herself to search out the “other ways” of communicating with the world. After participating in a workshop five years ago, still holding on to this power, she fell in love with photography. It was the perfect instrument for bringing that special gift in her to life.
Today, she holds her own workshops and her photographs are exhibited all over the world. More recently at Aarhus Center for Contemporary Art, Denmark and at the Anzenberger Gallery, Vienna, Austria.
Curios to know more, I sent Alena a few questions. With the reply came some strangely staged, almost absurd portraits, and some well thought through answers.
AZ: I adhere to philosophy, that everything I do should be a continuation of myself. Only in this way it will be honest and impregnated. I believe, that despite of the fact that there are billions of people living on Earth, we all have out-and-outer predestinations, abilities and obligations before the higher forces. One of my objectives is to investigate the border between habitual and unfamiliar. I guide the attention to it because it’s a miraculous tool that we can use to change our picture of the world to be in motion, as this planet always is. That is why, perhaps, most of my photographs are looking absurdly and jocular. It’s hard to perceive the falling of engrained prejudices without smiling.
AZ: It comes from above in appliance with some inner world changes or outside universe events. Recently I’ve been fond of bread baking and the study of planet structure.
AZ: Yes, sure. I’m in love with the old Russian interiors and try to involve them in my visual research. Even if there is another atmosphere around, I’ll try to reconstruct the space and make use of my imagination.
AZ: Self-portraiture is my beloved sphere of research, which I by the way, continue to explore. It’s both very cozy to work with, and also lets out my inner feelings to see more clearly what is happening there. I usually practice a non-planned shooting, because it helps me to relay on the exact moment (the space around and my spirits).
AZ: I’m working on several projects right now. One of them is a new path for me because of the theme and the technique. It’s a documentary research about my great grand father, who participated in the Russian-Japanese War in the beginning of 20th century, and was held captive in Japan for some years. He fell in love with a Japanese woman, but came back home, built a house, planted the elm tree and raised six children. I’m intrigued and inspired by this story. I don’t have a lot of facts, only some archive photographs with him and a Japanese hieroglyph on the back of them. For example, I found that the photo studio where he was photographed a century ago still exists. I want to go there and remake his portrait in the same pose and clothes. It’s a multilayer exploration, which I’d like to make into a book in the future. Visually the work is very different from my other projects, and it is still on an early stage, so I prefer to show you this later.
AZ: I’m looking for a residency in Japan and a grant to continue the project about my great grand father.
AZ: Spirit, joyfulness and will.