Catching Distortions of Reality. Studio Visit with Ukrainian Photographer Victoria Pidust.
This week we visited photographic artist, Victoria Pidust, at her Weisensee studio. We were introduced to Victoria by a member of the studio family — Laura — and when our eyes first found her unique, abstract explorations in photography, we knew we had to talk to her. Victoria was kind enough to invite us to her studio to show us her prints, drink some tea, and share her stories of building tank obstacles in Ukraine after the invasion, how she found photography, and why she is so drawn to capturing distortions of reality.
I was first interested to learn where she came from and what her path to Berlin looked like.
“I’m from a small city called Nikopol. It’s South East Ukraine. I lived in Kyiv five years then I came here with my boyfriend… Before the invasion, my boyfriend had a solo-show in Kyiv. The opening was planned for the 24th of February [day of invasion] so we decided to fly there for it on the 20th, to stay against brewing Russian full scale invasion in Ukraine in this way— but he got stuck there because if you’re a man from 18 to 60, you can’t leave. My brother, for example, can’t leave the country. But the luck was that [my boyfriend] had started teaching at Weißensee Kunsthochschschule Berlin since November 2021, so after two months he could go back to Germany. I spent maybe one and a half month there.”
Kyiv, April 2022. Photo courtesy of the artist.
“We were in Kyiv when it started, and then we moved to Lviv in the West of Ukraine and spent some time there building tank obstacles. It’s random people we built them with; some artists, some photographers. People came up with an idea of how we can help, so we decided to help with building these obstacles. We gathered the metal from everywhere. We found some places where you can cut the metal from the old train tracks. Then we made a fundraiser and our friends and our gallery (Judith Andreae — we have worked with before) helped us to gather the money in Germany — around 30,000 euros which we invested in humanitarian needs, in the territorial defenses, and for metal for the obstacles. After some time it has turned into building beds for the soldiers.”
We went on to discuss Victoria’s origins in photography.
“I’m a photographer from childhood, I would say. But I engaged with art as well. It was much about what was possible in my small hometown. It was a really small town. But then I came to Kyiv and attended many different photography courses, met many famous Ukrainian photographers such as Sahsa Kurmaz, Roman Pyatkovka, Igor Gaidai, Viktor Marushchenko, Alexandr Lyapin.”
“We have very high level Pinchuk Art Centre for contemporary art, where I saw for the first time in my life, for example, works from Damien Hirst, Gursky and Elliason. There are many exhibitions happening with a world context, and this was great to see this in childhood. Then I got a DAAD scholarship for studying Art here in Germany.”
I wondered what type of work she began creating in Germany.
“I wanted to work with reality, in a way, but in another way when you can catch the mistakes of reality… I worked with a scanner, just like a normal document scanner, and did a series called Bildmassage. It’s like photography in time because the camera is moving so you can pull objects and change their position.”
“Then I wanted to have a camera which could make distortions in real life. I couldn’t find this, but I found a technique called photogrammetry and I started to use this to scanning objects. You’re taking photos around the objects, but when it’s not enough information for the algorithm to create the 3D model — when it’s missing some information — it’s like a distortion of reality.”
I was curious where the interest in distortions of reality came from.
“I guess it’s from a shift; leaving one reality and switching to another reality. I saw a very big shift in visual reality leaving my country for the first time in 22 years. It was a really huge disruption of two realities and I was in between.”
Why did you want to photograph this?
“I still wanted to photograph, but already everything is photographed in the way of art. I wanted to see something else. I needed to destroy materiality to create something else, something that doesn’t exist, but with a camera tool. This technique allows you to see the world in another way, because you have this connection to reality — you can recognise something in the picture — but it’s also a lot of stuff which is abstract. So it’s in between abstract and figurative.”
“I’m also working with this iPhone zooming series which I’m just taking photos with my iPhone since 2016. It’s mostly about some objects and combinations of objects from daily life. Also they’re compressed because of the iPhone quality and the zoom-in. It’s kind of the same theme which is going through all of the work; photography related somehow to the painting… I don’t know how to describe it yet. Compositionally, colourful, abstract things.”
I wondered how she wants people to feel when experiencing her work.
“I want to share what could be seen with iPhone as a tool of our time, which everybody has. With algorithmic tools for 3D scanning, where the reality becomes a bit surreal and alien in a way we can’t and wouldn’t imagine how different our human perception could be, but this particular tool shows us that deformation with a tool of photography, digitality and internet is so real.”
Why do you take photos?
“I love it. I love to search for some strange things, which are happening around. I want to see a lot everytime and every day. It is a desire. I don’t know if it will stop sometime or if will transform to another way of understanding the world.”
Thank you to Victoria. You can find her links below.
Photographs courtesy of the artist.
Words and portraits by Ewan Waddell.