Drift in to the miraculous world of Olga Volodina. Interview for Cult Potato. Bangkok 2018
In a pleasant evening at the lovely coffee shop, I met Olga for the first time. She presented in a black loose T-shirt and long trousers and a cap with the same color on her pixie short hair. She walked toward me with her vigorous personality. Even though she didn’t put any makeup on her naturally pale skin but the sparkles in her eyes are shining above all.
We sat and started introducing ourselves to each other, with Sacha, the New Yorker artist and our good friend, who help us to connect. Shortly after a bit of self-introduction, we began to drift into the miraculous world of Olga Volodina.
Olga's full name is Olga Volodina. She is a Russian-born photo artist currently residing in Bangkok. She started her professional career as a fashion art photographer in Moscow. She is the author of several social and art photo projects. Her work has been featured on TV programs, in print media and even exhibited in art galleries. Her photography projects are always very personal and sincere with the intention to evoke an emotional connection within the viewer.
For Olga Volodina, photography is an exploration of how the camera translates her feelings, thoughts, and attitudes. Human is always the main source of inspiration for Olga. Her controversial inner world comes to life conveying a message within a single frame, leading to strong compositions and thoughtful lighting decisions.
We had talked about her inspiration behind her work and here are her highlight pieces.
If you observe this picture closely, you’ll see several photo overlapping in this piece. This makes me curious even more of the meaning behind this picture.
What's your inspiration behind this picture?
Olga: “This is a very simple concept. The name is “Origin of Tyranny”. There’re a lot of tyrants out there and on the forehead, it’s the symbol of Illuminati. Being a tyrant they may hurt or kill lots of people but I try to understand what they feel before they become a tyrant. The child for Tyrant that is sleeping and frozen inside. Everybody grows differently, maybe because different childhood experiences before they obtain power, they locked the innocent child in them. The tyrant then stopped smiling and became expressionless. This draws my curiosity of how they can be happy when they kill or hurting people to pursue tyranny way.
She shows the photo of the model captured in the white gown for those with mental health problem back in the 18th century — actually, a video clip of this performance was shown at Sathorn 11 gallery.
The inspiration came from “Life of being a woman in the 18th — 19th century could truly be dreadful.” That was a man’s world in that century and women had no rights and no voice in it. There were many cases when a man got tired of his wife, he would find an excuse to send her to Bedlam, a mental asylum. Any psychiatric institutions of those days were full of women, a lot of them were absolutely sane before they got into the hands of the “doctors”. After all the cruelty they went through they stayed mentally disabled forever. The performance draws attention to this dark fact of the history and has an element of interactivity. Even Though I’m pretty fond of the Victorian fashion in the 18th century but I can’t imagine myself being in the same situation as those girls. Thank God I’m living in the 21st century.
Metamorphosis project Performance “Black Butterfly” “Metamorphosis” project use symbolism to represent “Fragile human consciousness influenced by mass media, the hypocrisy of the modern society and an average human.” For example; my favorite one is “Tears of Gold”
This shows the system that forces a person to spend a precious lifetime either on basic survival needs or excessive consumption. When I look at this picture, I think of dejected situations of several fast fashion brands that keep producing a large number of clothes with low quality materials and gave poor living condition to those production labors. It’s the ugly truth of capitalism society.
I giggled to myself when I saw this one. Even I didn’t talk with Olga about this one but for me, this photo reminds me of the unicorn madness trend in the social media world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not offended by the rainbow fellows from the fantasy world. I love unicorns too. But lately, I found it pretty annoying when all the mass production use unicorns concept for almost everything; unicorn cafe, Unicorn slipper, unicorn cosmetic theme, unicorn frappe and such… Unicorn itself may never realize it would become the new sensation.
Another masterpiece which I believe everyone could relate to and could be experienced in our life: “Gossip” “All the things they say will come back to you like a spider that crawling to you or your family, your nice vibe. That’s because people have a lot of time for gossiping.” — Olga
In the picture, the person from the left start to gossip and the grapevine is transferred to another and when it coming out from the person in the middle, it tainted. “I am the person who could say something and people start to talk behind my back. I heard a lot of dramas following afterward. For me, gossip is like a glass of pure poison or a snake’s venom that spread around. I prefer staying home than going out. I’m not a very social person. I want to spend my time at home with my work or stay with my daughter. And I’m sad that I can’t stop people from talking bad about me, you cannot stop gossiping. And all the things they say will come back to you like a spider that crawling to you or your family, your nice vibe. That’s because people have a lot of time for gossiping.” — said Olga. Black and white colors are used to emphasize the edge between good and evil, that humanity is balancing on. Bodies in bandages symbolize sick mankind, weakened by prejudices and fears and vulnerable to manipulations. Information is one of the most dangerous weapons now.
This picture represents a cosmetic surgeon that can change the physical appearance of a person. It interprets as those who control mass media can change the perception of how reality appears to us and create the illusion of freedom and choice.
Another outstanding photo set of her work which is now exhibited in Chiang Mai is about Transgender. I may not put many photos as the set are nude pictures of transgender women.
How did you come up with the transgender project?
Olga: “It’s a very different concept -The beauty of transgender,”
“This set of photograph made people question to themselves“ What’s the truth ”? and their reaction is everything ”Olga revealed the time when she exhibits her work and sees great reaction from the audiences, especially from those who are very conservative because when they first saw the picture they see a beautiful woman, the audiences gave compliments but when they found out this is the picture of transgender, they were speechless and stunned.
Did your daughter accept the variety of gender expressions?
Olga: “Yes, I explained her everything and she is an open-minded child and she sees things with different eyes”. What Olga share with us about her different perspective of parenting as she didn’t want her child to be captured in the traditional education system which kills the imagination and creativity.
When did you start photographing?
Olga: “I used to be a model back in the day in Moscow but I feel empty inside and now what I do fulfill me and I’ve been doing art photography for 5–6 years. Before, I just wrote a script and shot portrait. I didn't really get it going seriously. Now I’m more confident of what I do. I can portray my message much clearer. "
What’s the fulfillment feeling that you got from being a photographer artist?
“When I focus on my work, I stop drinking and I stop being paranoid. I become a normal person like people who do yoga or meditation. I love this processing. ” Olga shares her feeling with sparkly eyes.
How’s your relationship with artists in Bangkok compare to other countries?
Olga: “In Moscow, people tend to be very close, very critical. For example, if you want to go to the gallery, you must pay the money. You can’t imagine how much people in Moscow said my work is shit. (laugh) In Thailand, people more friendly here but I need people who see my work and tell what they feel about my work in order to grow up. There’s too much politeness here. ”
What's your next project?
Olga: “Well, it will be different and I’m still thinking whether I should do it or not. There are things happened in my life and I’m tired of politics and social projects. I started to take interest in tarot card and want to do something about it - something more magical. I'm a bit tired of creating things too educational and involving too many conflicts. I want to do something different, something spiritual, it may be good for my soul. I can’t explain why I do it. It’s just come up. ”
It’s exciting to see her next project as what she had shown me today is a very intense message that she wants to communicate to the world and left us the time to rethink of our social toxication, propaganda, the truth, and other matters.
Olga is planning to move to Bulgaria within the next few months to be close to her family. If you want to learn more about her stunning artworks, please follows the links below.