Interview with Featured Photographer Oxana Prikhodko
Oxana Prikhodko’s exploration of age and her sense of self are at the core of her portfolio, “Soon Forty”. In F-Stop Magazine’s Issue 122 – Portfolio 2023, Oxana shares that exciting connection between the visual arts and the changing and fleeting nature of life. I say ‘exciting’ because it’s another way of saying something is scary. While facing that fear, she expresses her feelings or emotions in a very understated way. Her black and white images are spare. The film-noir style in several of the shots, in combination with camera placement and lighting, heightens the visual tension. The result is a striking example of complexity within a simple package.
Cary Benbow (CB): Can you tell us a bit about yourself – where did you grow up and spend your formative years? Did that influence the way you work or create now?
Oxana Prikhodko (OP): I was born in the small Siberian city of Angarsk. When I was 10 years old, I knew for sure that I would leave my hometown. I just didn’t have relationships with my peers; I was a black sheep. I got my first degree in Irkutsk — I studied Directing and graduated from the Regional College of Culture. In 2008 I graduated from the Ural State Pedagogical University with a degree in organization management. I’ve lived there for almost 20 years.
My life has always been connected with moving, I still don’t know where my home is. Although I know my ‘home’ is where I am. That’s why the topic of the relationship between man and place is so interesting to me in my work. Now my husband and cat live in Georgia, in Tbilisi, and I often come to them, but I don’t live with them all the time.
CB: What inspires your art? What kind of stories do you wish to tell?
OP: The state of uncertainty gives me the strongest inspiration and the opportunity to speak out. Sometimes I intentionally immerse myself in this state, then I create, and when I come to the result, I calm down a little and for a while I can not shoot at all, not work on projects. I watch a lot of movies, read, reflect, and am alone — this is also my inspiration.
CB: Artists over time have addressed feelings of anxiety, depression, fears, etc — because your work deals with very personal issues, what type of reaction do many people have to your work, and what is your response? And what inspired you to express these issues in “Soon Forty”?
OP: People said they felt fear, dislike and disgust. And I understand them, because that’s exactly what I wanted to convey in my images. And I succeeded. Viewers also wrote to me a lot that they were also afraid of this milestone (of turning 40), but could not admit it openly. At the age of 39, I experienced a crisis and the horror of approaching old age and withering away. It took me a while to express this feeling through photography, and when I started I felt some relief. The last photo in the project (this is the eye) I took it off for my fortieth birthday. This is very symbolic for me.
CB: What makes photography your choice of expression? Why do you use it as your way to express yourself?
OP: Photography, as a tool, is most understandable to me as a way of self-expression. The mastery lies in bringing the image to the viewer without complex image manipulation and without explanatory texts. I’m still on my way to mastering it.
CB: Can you please talk about the ideas behind your work submitted to this issue? How do they relate to your other projects, or how are they significantly different?
OP: This project has become a way for me to cope with my personal fear of turning forty. This is not my first personal project and not the first where I expose my vulnerabilities; to appear in front of the audience not in the best possible way, even a little ironic about myself and my condition. I want the viewer to see the irony that forty years is far from the end of life. If you do not become a little ironic, then you can go crazy from all the fears in our soul 🙂
CB: How do you feel about making photos of yourself in this project? Do you think it is difficult to photograph yourself for personal topics?
OP: It’s not easy. In ‘Soon Forty’ I had to accept that many people would see my not beautiful legs 🙂 When you take self-portraits, you automatically become the subject of photography, look at yourself from the outside and think only about the idea, and not about whether someone will like you or not. The artist inside me was pleased with the resulting image (legs), and Oxana is a human being, resigned 🙂
CB: Who are your photography inspirations, and why?
OP: I am inspired by the work of Francesca Woodman. Her self-portraits are so deep that they are incomprehensible to me. Exploring this incomprehensibility fuels my growth as an artist. I recently discovered the film works of the director Nicolas Winding Refn. His films are perfectly shot parables about the horror of human existence. Perhaps I will decide to do something based on the impression of what I saw, but not soon yet 🙂
CB: What advice would you give to someone who wants to take on projects like yours? What advice would you give to your younger self if you could?
OP: Don’t be afraid to share what you feel. And I would give my younger self this advice: don’t stop creating when it seems that no one appreciates it.
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