THE TIMELESS WORLD OF OLGA VALESKA
By Carlotta Buosi
You are a very eclectic artist, how do you manage to combine all your skills in one product?
Since I was little, I’ve been practicing a lot of different art forms: painting, drawing, sculpture writing. But the world I’m trying to express is always the same, as eclectic as it is itself. That is why everything always assembles very naturally, without effort. I must say that photography helps me a lot too. Indeed, as part of my artistic activity as a photographer I do everything, hair and make-up, painting and drawing, creating costumes, sets, sculptures; but I also play roles, since I am my own model. With my approach to staging and self-portrait photography really is a total art for me.
What is your artistic background?
As I said, I’ve always bathed in a particular universe and I have always tried to express myself through art. As a child I had problems with autism and am sometimes a bit secretive and solitary. My world was my refuge, and art was the form I used to create it. Although, I am at present particularly interested in using the medium of photography, I have never had dreams of becoming a photographer. In fact until two years ago I had never even handled a camera! I have lived in a fairly traditional environment, without cars, TV, computer or phones. I was very connected with nature and with my dreams, but at one point I wanted to make my dreams more concrete. As photography is an art that reflects reality, transcribing a dream with pictures somehow makes it real. People can say, “This really existed”
The link between dreams and reality then becomes more tenuous and that is the whole point for me.
But again the photograph is not the biggest thing; I still consider it a “creative image ” no matter the medium used to produce it.
Your images are entirely created by yourself, is there a phase of the creative process you prefer?
It depends on the day, and my mood is very changeable! When I feel like being quiet I create costumes, small objects, painting and drawings. When I feel more energy, I begin to construct large complex scenes, which often require long hours of preparation and great moves, or I start shoots that that are endless.
Shooting is such a special moment for me! Making a self-portrait gives me the impression of being transported as if in a dream. Making a self-portrait, is like playing a role on stage, but with the freedom of not caring, as there are no spectators. This, in my opinion, can make you feel free and accomplished.
Does your inspiration come from a person when you create an image?
Inspiration often comes from a person. For my self-portraits, inspiration doesn’t come from me as an individual: the goal is not to portray myself in the photograph, or evaluate myself. When I look at my self-portraits I do not see myself. I see moods, concepts, dreams and possibly other characters. That is what defines me, not my body. My body and face are tools that allow me to live my thoughts and inner characters.
Of course, these characters look like me more or less and all reflect an aspect of what I am inside, but I try not to focus on my external look. For me is not the physique but everything that transcends it, all that is beyond.
Where do you get the inspiration for the clothing and style of photos?
I do not make my costumes specifically for my photo shoots. I like to wear them regularly. I’ve always loved fashion, although I prefer to create my own way rather than follow the current trends. In any case, my inspirations are many and extremely changeable and I actually have a little trouble defining my style, which can range from classic to whimsical. I think I am strongly influenced by the traditional Slavic style, which reminds me of my childhood. I also love all that is baroque, folk, colourful, sparkling, flowery or ornate. Like a sort of visual madness, which borders with the wonderful.
Is there is an historical period you like to refer in particular?
I am passionate about history and the past in general and I think it shows a lot in my work. I’m a fairly old-fashioned, attached to traditions, folklore and memories. I’ve never felt in tune with today’s society and the modern world. I often feel like they are from another century! Yet my photos do not refer to a particular time
as my world is timeless, it’s an imaginary bubble.
Your images often remind me of fairy tales, is there the intention to tell a story with them?
My pictures sometimes have a very narrative side but I think that achieving a story is not necessarily the goal. My images are like fragments, unexplained appearances, and brief glimpses of an entire inner world.
These are not actual stories with a beginning or an end because nothing is clearly revealed in the image itself. Even if these images may have a specific meaning, I prefer them to be open to interpretation and remain ambiguous. Everything I do is so personal and reflects who I am; I sometimes have a hard time showing more. Actually I never imagined or even particularly desired for my photos to be seen by so many. Even now
I try not to think about it because it scares me a little bit!
Many of your images remind me of Pre-raphaelites’ paintings of women. What do you think of this artistic movement?
I love this movement, but I am not directly inspired by it especially as my influences are so diverse. This said, I am very confused and for several reasons: the search for a certain aesthetic beauty of a hand, with the use of colour and detail, a taste for the shimmering hues, natural scenery and flower.
On the other hand, I look at literary references, historical, and especially Christian, and they’re fascination and love for nature, tradition, the divine, the past, myths and legends.
Finally, I think that what is reflected in the characters of the Pre-Raphaelite painting in my own characters is this mystical and passionate soul, a kind of fervour and the relentless pursuit of absolute ideal and transcendence.
What has so far been the most exciting project you’ve taken part in?
All were different, but all reflected something I would have loved to be. There is no one project more exciting than another. I don’t think I have ever really had proper projects as there has never been advanced planning.
I have always followed my inspiration day by day and whenever I wanted to do something I did it straight away. It has always been very instinctive, almost unconscious. The desire to create, for me, needs to be irresistible. Everything must seem obvious, as natural as lightening, uncontrollable and inexplicable.
What are your plans for the future? How would you upgrade your own art?
I do not know myself! My inspiration is extremely unpredictable and I’m never sure what tomorrow holds for me. What is certain is that I am never short of ideas! I have a little frantic side and I feel like any challenge is possible.
I get excited about so many things! Until now a lot has surprised and amazed me and I find life so full of resources, mystery, and amazing puzzles. I find these words of photographer Bill Brandt very accurate: “This is part of the work of photographer to see more intensely than most people. He must have and keep in him something of the receptiveness of the child who looks at the world for the first time or of the traveller who enters a strange country. “