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Interview

Introducing: Kateryna Snizhko

text:
Sophie Wright
Date:
October 19, 2018
Futures Photography is glad to introduce Kateryna Snizhko. She is one of the talents nominated by our partner the Triennial of Photography Hamburg and she is taking over the Futures photography Instagram account during this weekend. We met her in Amsterdam during Unseen Amsterdam 2018 and we talked a bit with her. Here the interview by Sophie Wright.
The documentary photographer Adam Broomberg mentored five Futures Talents over the three months running up to Unseen Amsterdam 2019
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What are the main themes of your work?

My work is always research-based. There’s this chain that comes back from one part to another, it follows and it develops – sometimes it changes direction but its always somehow linked in-between. For instance, I was working on this project Tini (‘shadows’ in Ukrainian) which was about memory, and recognising the memory-image, its destruction and fade over time. I was working with my own archive but not through a traditional way of archiving; more an archive of memories. I made prints from my Grandpa’s house, then I made them into a 3D installation so basically it’s only the outlines of the photographs, which is also like a last stage of the memory-image destruction in a way.

Now, I’m mostly working with found material. I started to work on a collection of about 100 found notes on the streets. It was a development on the topic of memory. It’s grown into a musical project, so I’m translating the visual information that I found into a different materiality. I connected the visual material into musical notes and wrote out each note. Each piece has its own sound. It’s also going to be an installation where you can be immersed, not only in visual information but also on a more emotional level. Visual information gives us something we can’t explain – the notes are all in different languages but I tried to unify them by using the universal language of music.  

In your projects there always seems to be a nod to photography and the ideas that orbit around it, but its final form is different. How would you describe your relationship to the medium?

I think photography is the most clear reference to reality, but it also gives you so many opportunities to trick and play with it. Because what you record is never the true fact: it’s what you see, it’s subjective the whole time. Whenever you use the camera, you’re choosing where to put it and when to click the button. Photography for me is an inspiring medium but not the result itself. I don’t really want to be called a photographer. For me, it’s much more important that I have the concept and vision of photographic perspective, but I’m not really attached to the traditional use of the medium.

How did this very open approach to photography develop?

My practice started in a strange way. When I started studying at the Rietveld, I really changed my professional path – I used to be a lawyer. I needed to change all of my perspectives which is why the Rietveld has been very important for what I do so far. I started with experiments but always connected to image-making from a simple point of view. What is imagery? What is photography? I was always trying to find the logical way. A lot of times I was thinking inside the box, and perfectionism was one of the main things that really didn’t help! We experimented a lot during the study years, which made me realise it doesn’t need to be perfect all the time: it’s not about the technical skills, it’s about the vision that we have and we can use whatever we want.

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Tell me about Debris, the project you’re presenting at Unseen.

The project I’m presenting at Futures is paper-based. I was volunteering at a Riso workshop and I started to review the test prints. There you have this waste of someone’s try-outs printed out on top of someone else’s – it’s like an overlap of different imagery. It was so fascinating, and at first I wasn’t thinking of photography, I was discovering the limits of the imagery. My research is also closely connected to the topic of artistic practice and so the process itself is often much more important for me than the result.

Now we are talking about failures and try-outs, but when you go to a museum everything is perfect and these traces of process have almost vanished. You’re always guessing how it was made. I started to think, what is failure? This work is basically made by an invisible collective who are not aware of their collective production; the final work was not orchestrated by anyone so it was not clearly conceptually shaped. Artists always make these huge images about disaster and the planet, trash, junk on the street, nature, but we never talk about how we influence this process. I also felt that it’s not just about material waste, but also about the waste of ideas, the consumption of time and all the elements of this artistic process. In this project, photography is one of the mediums that helps to bring the most visual information to the viewer.

Tell me about the name of your website – ‘experiolation’ – and how it acts as a guide in your work.

‘Experiolation’ comes from ‘experience’ and ‘exploration’. It’s basically what I’m doing! It’s the most essential combination of two words to explain my practice. My idea for the future is to get out of the situation where you need to prepare images and, instead, prepare an experience. It’s also nice because I’m using photography but it should be incorporated in installations where you give an experience to the viewer – you don’t just pass by the wall. People really enter this immersive space where you can get in, spend some time and you don’t have a direct explanation. It’s about what you feel and how you see.

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