In her newest self-portrait series produced with the Leica Q2 Monochrom, the artist goes to even greater lengths to explore her rich inner world and share it with the viewer. The result is a magical experience defined by universal symbols and truths.
Where did you get the inspiration for all the props and scenes? Did you do all that on your own?
Yes, I come up with all the set elements in the photos on my own. The props come from various places and sources, and sometimes the images were also inspired by props that I discovered by chance. At the beginning of the project, I was just wandering around the Mauer Park flea market, without any very specific idea of the kind of things I was looking for, and I ended up finding peculiar objects, such as the old doll’s head, the old telephone, and the old stuffed bird. Intuitively I knew immediately that these objects would be useful for my project. As the project progressed a little, I began to have a clearer idea of the kind of props and costumes I would need for each specific picture, so I would search for those items. I was also lucky to discover a very friendly shop for antiques and second-hand objects and clothes, named VEB Orange. The owners agreed to rent to me some of their precious items and clothes for my pictures. Some of the more peculiar objects came from La Tercera Mano – artist and collector.
Please describe the process behind the development of this project!
All the ideas for my images are a combination of my fantasies, dreams and childhood memories, as well as being inspired by the objects and props I found. The process of creation was very intuitive; but, unlike my other projects, I did a lot of sketches for this particular series, which helped me to get more clarity about my ideas. At the same, the ideas often shifted during the process of shooting the pictures, because sometimes the idea you imagine and sketch doesn’t look the same way in real life, or because I would spontaneously come up with a more interesting idea.
Were there some tricky ones, where you didn’t seem to find the right image?
Yes, absolutely… Sometimes I felt totally stuck and had to reshoot the same idea 2-3 times until I felt that it was successful. I was also helped a lot in the process, by long conceptual conversations about my ideas with my dear friend Gökhan Bahcivan. With some images, I had two versions that turned out interesting, and I couldn’t decide which one should remain in the final edit. Also, I must say that, due to the conceptual and the staged nature of this project, each image had quite a long and elaborate process of creation, even if at a first glance the images seem rather minimalistic. It is very different from my other work, where I might get inspired by the interior of someone’s home; or by the behaviour, personalities or relationship between the characters that I photograph. In this case, all the elements of the pictures had to be conceived from scratch, including the lighting.
Was it a painful or joyful process to visualise your inner world like this?
I think overall the process was rather joyful and intriguing because it allowed me to gaze at and analyse myself more deeply, and to also look at myself with a more humorous approach. But, of course, there were also moments during the process where I became aware of certain things that I wasn’t necessarily ready to face.
You are known for your colourful narrative documentary/fictional photography. What made you change your style so much?
It is true that this project is quite different than my other work, particularly because it is black and white. I’ve been working with colour for the past 20 years, and my focus was mainly on exploring the relationships and family dynamics of other people, as well as documenting mysterious or disappearing cultures. I do always have fictional or staged elements in my projects, but the documentary part is always very important and forms the basis – unlike this new Tête-à-Tête series, where everything is a product of my imagination and creation. However, my journey as a photographer did begin with analogue, black and white photography, where I worked more with staging imaginary scenes and portraits.
What role did the Leica Q2 Monochrom play?
The opportunity to work with Leica Q2 Monochrome revived my interest in black and white photography quite significantly, something I must say I didn’t expect at all. I feel that this camera brought a fresh perspective and a new angle into my work, and I will definitely continue exploring this direction from now on. I think, one of the remarkable features of this camera is that it really resembles an analogue camera in many ways. It is very easy to use, and, at the same time, the quality of the images and the amount of detail that you can get is absolutely spectacular, without forgetting the beautiful, super-clear 28mm lens that opens up to f1.7. In fact, this camera definitely surpasses any 35mm film camera in terms of quality; but anyone who has been missing the feeling of working with one will find this experience revived when using the Q2 Monochrome. And one of the biggest advantages of this camera is that it is so small and easy to carry around wherever you go; so you can really be spontaneous and creative with it at any moment.
Did the visualisation of your feelings have any therapeutical effect?
Yes, I think so… This work forced me to look at myself more closely than I ever did before. It was almost like a meditation process: in part because I work completely alone, and sometimes the shoots go on for several hours, mostly at night, which means that I’m really “in the zone” when I work. Of course, it was also unpleasant at times, but I think overall it is definitely therapeutical and has a positive effect on the psychological processes within me. It also made me analyse my dreams more closely, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time, as I am a very intensive dreamer, and my dreams are often loaded with symbols and narratives that I wonder about constantly.
The Tête-à-Tête series will also be published in LFI magazine 01.2021.
Viktoria Sorochinski is a Ukrainian-born, Canadian artistic photographer with a multicultural background, who currently lives and works in Berlin, Germany. Since completing her Masters of Fine Arts degree at New York University (NYU) in 2008, she has had nearly 70 exhibitions in 21 different countries throughout Europe, North and South America, and Asia. Sorochinski’s work is featured and reviewed in over 70 international publications, and her monograph Anna & Eve was published in Germany by Peperoni Books. She is also a winner and finalist of numerous international awards, fellowships and grants, including the Leica Oskar Barnack Award, Arnold Newman Prize, LensCulture Exposure Award, Lucie Award (Discovery of the Year) among many others. To learn more about her work, visit her website, or follow her on Instagram.