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Work / Photography

Russian photographer Turkina Faso on the “post-Soviet aesthetic”

Next week at the ICA, fashion historian Djurdja Bartlett (London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London) will be joined by Moscow-based designers Asiya Bareeva and Artur Lomakin, Essentuki-born photographer Turkina Faso and journalist and curator Anastasiia Fedorova for a panel discussion to consider the work currently being produced by creatives who grew up as the Soviet Union came to an end. Defining a Post-Soviet Aesthetic in Fashion will turn a critical eye on the appropriation of Soviet iconography by Western fashion houses and the propagation of the Russian subcultural underground in the hands of cult designer Gosha Rubchinskiy.

Among the creatives taking part on the panel is fashion photographer Kati Turkina, who uses the pseudonym Turkina Faso. Born in Russia, Kati lived in Yessentuki, an industrial city at the base of the Caucasus mountains. After graduating from Moscow’s Institute of Journalism and Literature, she took her MA in Fashion Photography at London College of Fashion, where her dissertation took her back home to photograph her younger sister Alice. Since, she’s been stacking up editorials for magazines such as Numero Russia, Vogue Italy, Port Russia and Wonderland_. We caught up with the London-based photographer to ask whether the “post-Soviet aesthetic” was more than a fashion industry buzzword.

Do you think that a “post-Soviet aesthetic” truly exists?

Yes, I believe it exists. At least because the Soviet Union had huge impact on generations of people. You can’t avoid heritage in this case and be abstracted from reality if you grew up in it.

And how would you say your photography sits within it?

As I said, it is hard to go away from your surroundings. I think I can consider some part of my works as a post-Soviet. Maybe partly due to the fact I shot in our hometown — Yessentuki — where you can find lots of things from the past. I used for styling garments from my mum and grandmother’s wardrobes, tableware and even fabrics from our family archives.

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You’ve been based in London for some years now. In what ways do you continue to identify with Russia?

I do identify myself with Russia while I am away from it as well. I love Russian culture, ballet, literature and love to explore our history. One can say that I started to love my country even more while I am far from it. But if I didn’t move to London I would never explore this part of my identity. Sometimes you have to look from the side to understand some things and to feel yourself in a new way as a foreigner.

I feel a big connection to my roots and I am inspired by a lot of different things in this word, but of course I am attracted to my memories from childhood and I put this things into my art, my personal projects. I think it is just honest and pure. If I were born in northern England I would do same about that neighbourhood.

In what ways do you see Russia fitting into creativity globally in 2017?

I think we have so many great contemporary artists who are known all over the world, especially in art photography. I think in terms of fashion photography we are too fresh. Our fashion market just started to grow and develop. We still have too many imitators. Young photographers look at social media and just copy what they see without any interpretations, which is bad. But of course, we have so many fears and we are not so confident without approval from outside. So I think this is a post-soviet reaction to the reality.

One can say that there were the last generation of this kind of people. Now, teenagers are much more brave and aware of being cool. So let’s see how it will work soon! Also, it is significant that we didn’t have any BA or MA in fashion photography before about 2010, so there are a lot of self taught photographers, great minds. As soon as our fashion industry is so tiny (few good magazines and just growing fashion community of designers) there are not that many opportunities to develop as fast as our colleagues abroad.

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