Featured Project: J.B. about men floating in the air
Julia Borissova (St.Petersburg, Russia) is an artist that explores how history and memory are perceived
through images. Her experimental approach takes the spectator through a mythical journey where reality boundaries become blurred. The book is her natural medium in order to articulate those images that help her to understand and represent the world in which she lives in.
"My series 'J.B. about men floating in the air' was inspired by the story of two Lithuanian-American pilots who tried to set a new world record by flying over the Atlantic into Eastern Europe in the early 1930s. I found a reference to the attempt in a Joseph Brodsky poem and decided to create my own ‘parallel world’ in black-and-white images. My story is about the dream of every person to break out from the vice of all kinds of prohibitions and flyaway to a distant unknown in search of unlimited freedom and find there his true motherland and real home.
At first I made a series of mockumentary photographs to get the effect of stopped time, but then decided that is necessary to increase a gap between documentary and imaginary world and added a few collages and drawings. The resulting book was made in the format of Leporello, which allows the viewer to choose how to browse the images and find in this story his own ending.".
SFUK: Tell us a little about yourself and your background in photography.
JB:My name is Julia Borissova. I'm an Estonia-born, Saint Petersburg-based artist working with photographs. I graduated from the program 'Photography as a research', 2011-2013, Foundation 'FotoDepartament', St. Petersburg. In my work I often refer to memory problems in rethinking the past and my place in it. I used to work as a graphic designer and this background influences my artistic approach. I like creating an artist’s book and I constantly try to expand its borders. The medium of art-book gives me a large degree of artistic freedom: interweaving together the imaginary, symbolic and real, I can create at this junction a new story as I see it.
I self-published 7 books and now I'm working on my new project which also will develop in form of the book.
SFUK: Why do you shoot film, have you always shot film & do you switch between digital and film?
JB: I shoot film, because I like to see the result not immediately but with some time delay. I love this expectation, so I have time to think about my work. When scanning the developed film, I can compare the result with the picture, which my imagination drew; sometimes I can see new, completely unexpected things. Since in all my projects I refer to the theme of memory, the analogue techniques give me another possibility to feel and show the flow of time, the presence of the past in the present. My artistic practice reflects my interest in analogue photography as well as collecting, preserving, and presenting archival materials. I design my art-books combining my own photographs with found images and by doing so I create a tactile interaction with subject matter of my research - thus opposing the importance of material in art against the immateriality of digital image.
SFUK: Who inspires you, any favourite people or places you frequently go to for inspiration?
JB: There is one place where I would like to be right now - it is the Baltic Sea, on the shores of which I was born one day. This place gives me a lot of energy and inspiration. I love the sea and open spaces, I love the sound of the sea and the wind, and it gives me the feeling of freedom and desire to dream. I have always been inspired by stories about people who are trying to achieve their dream, even in defiance of common sense.
SFUK: How would you describe your style of shooting?
JB: In terms of photography I have always been interested in the space beyond the "reality". I tend to create images that merge elements of fantasy and real things in my ongoing investigation of the sensation of transparency of time and blurred boundaries between fact and fiction.
SFUK: If you could have any camera in the world, which would you choose and why?
JB: I shoot a very old rangefinder camera Revue SE 400 or SLR camera of the same brand on 35mm film, and of the medium format, I use Pentacon Six and Mamiya 7 II. I'm completely satisfied with these cameras at the moment. What kind of equipment to choose, on which camera I'm going to shoot always depends on my theme for investigation and how I want to present it. Maybe next time I'd like to try something new, maybe some of Hasselblad cameras.
SFUK: Do you have any plans for your next project?
JB:I will continue looking for the most complete disclosure of the possible relationships between photography - theater - mask - myth at my artistic work.I would like to turn to some characters from the domains of literature, myth, history, religion, biblical figures and heroines of fairy tales and reinterpret their stories from a modern point of view.
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