Natalya Schlyahovaya

Moscow, Russia
Natalya, you have very interesting works, could you tell us about them? Do you have favorite one?

I don’t have favorite one. Every photograph is a certain emotion in special moment, it’s my language. It’s the way I express my emotions which others explain using words, and you can’t have one favorite word. I’ve tried to write a short story when I was seven. I ended up having a book with illustrations, a paper theatre and bunch of characters to it in a cardboard box.

Do you have anything special that inspires you to create? Where do you take your ideas from?

Variety. Opportunity to construct this variety and create new forms and worlds, as you did with pencil and lego when you were a child, using people and materials (it really sounds scary). Freezing a moment in its most beautiful form. A set of emotions from fetishes.

Constructing worlds and characters is the main thing. I take a man and sculpt him or search a character within him that he can’t see himself, and I can see. It is strange and I don’t know how to explain, for example, how I don’t feel that disapproval to some people who are «bad» judging by the standards of society. I often see an interesting form inside of these people.

Variety of forms: anthropology – crazy images made by people in different ages, their clothes, headdresses and whole degree of craziness to invent all these.

Color first. Music is dark, gloomy, also all natural and industrial noises. Punk as a form of denial and a way to be yourself. Books, internet as a space, time to learn and experiment, movies.

Herbarium as a tool to collect forms, cyberpunk as aesthetics and fancy. I can watch documentary and movies about ethnic groups for hours, look at their costumes, hair, jewelry on illustrations and photographs. If all this variety of differences between ethnic groups will erase, life will be too boring.

Light is very important. Wind, sun, grass dried by sun, gravel, everything wild, dusty roads, sore knees, cotton dress, drafts, suspenseful strings, crackling of cigarette, thistle.

It doesn’t reflect in my photographs. It is my inner world, the world I live in and do something under its unfluence. It is like living in a house surrounded by things and go outside to photograph.

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{dich}When I was a child I used to go and buy a loaf of bread. I held the bread and sang loundly. I wanted to become a singer and now I’m a photographer.{/dich}
I think our readers would like to know about your favorite books, movies or maybe one or two musical bands, they don’t have to be favorite ones even, just first ones you’ll remember.

I remember 160 gigabytes of music. Everything that Karin Dreijer-Andersson does: The Knife and Fever Ray – there is nothing better than «If I Had A Heart» song. Röyksopp and Robyn have a song called «Monument» from «Do It Again» album. I like to listen to all albums of Bohren & Der Club Of Gore – they are strange. Moderat, Atoms For Peace and CocoRosie are like shaman’s moves. This Mortal Coil, - Elizabeth Fraser’s voice in Song To The Siren sounds almost like a spell. Elliphant, MØ and Lana Del Ray. Bergen Kramer and his video «Thunderstorm» are wonderful. Killers with their song «Civil» are just «ah!». Nick Cave, Neil Young, PJ Harvey, Dead Can Dance, Smashing Pumpkins, Motorhead and so on.

There is a bunch of notepads full of names of movies and books in my pockets. Patti Smith’s «Just Kids», «American Gods» by Nail Gaiman, «Hopscotch» by Julio Cortazar and everything from Tennessee Williams. «By The Shores of Gitchee-Gumee» by Tama Janowitz: the most beautiful and silly story about the Slivenowiczes.

Movie «The Last Picture Show» by Peter Bogdanovich is perfection. «Time of the Gypsies» - the episode where Perhan flies in his dream, hugging a turkey and gypsy Ederlezi is playing, is just amazing. I can’t get «Lawn dogs» 1997 and «Badlands» by Terrence Malick out of my head. Documentaries «20 000 days on Earth» and «Cobain: Montage of Heck» are fantastic. You have to stop me

Some of your photographs reminded me of Pre-Raphaelite paintings, they have the same «thoughtful contemplation». How do you feel about painting?

Like Themis does. I hold the scales of justice in my hand – there is a film on the one side and a pencil on the other. Once a camera had given me an opportunity to reflect things I saw faster than I could do it with a pencil, but a set of postcards I had been given when I was a child helped me to find my mission. «Self-portrait» and «Self-portrait with thistle» of Albrecht Durer left the deepest impressions of my life. There was also Liotard’s «The Chocolate Girl» and I’ve been eating a lot of chocolate since then.

You’ve been taking up photography for nine years. How did it start?

I had been working as an editor in parallel, for nine years. When I was a child I used to go and buy a loaf of bread. I held the bread and sang loudly. I wanted to become a singer and now I’m a photographer.

Do you have a teacher or someone who inspires you?

First I saw Peter Lindbergh, then Sarah Moon and that was absolutely wonderful. After that I saw Nan Goldin, Elena Nemchuk, Fosco Maraini and that was even more interesting. And finally I saw Möbius and it was the last straw. But I don’t really know if it has something in common with photography.

What or who do you like to photograph more?

People that intrigue me. I don’t like the word «intrigue» but it is the most suitable one. These are people or set of fetishes that I squeeze into my constructions. 

Do you have any special idea or meaning in your photographs or they are just fleeting images?

If «meaning» is my inner emigration in which I exist, I say yes – these are details of my world. 

Do you think it is important to have an education in art?

If we speak about technical issues – yes. You must know your tools as good as your own body. It is an intuition that works on some levels but when your needs and ideas continue to grow you begin to want more. Photoart is a reflection of changes and personal development and also a sociocultural experience in which you exist and replicate yourself. But it is more interesting to plunge your foot into a puddle.

You had exhibitions in Italy, Sweden and it’s very cool. And what are you planning to do next? What will your next project be? Tell us a little about your global plans. 

I plan to make a book, photo-book.

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