Sasha Chaika

Saint-Petersburg, Russia
Today’s conversation is saturated with creation and exaltation because we are at the exhibition of the ambitious and astonishing photographer Sasha Chaika.  Sasha, let’s speak about you at first. Could you tell us how long have you been in photography?

I went in for photography in school but because of uncertainty in technical moments of camera operating among other “experts” I shifted to video (not so many video-experts surrounded me). For two years I had been working in cinema production, took part in popular Parisian cinema festival ASVOFF that took place locally in Russia. That was my first short and I had won the festival. Not long ago I returned to photography, though I’m studying cinema now.

You are a self-taught, aren’t you?

Yes, I am. Actually I am a musician by education. 

What kind of music do you like?

I listen to different music, but especially I like Russian dirty style – both gothic rock by “Agatha Christy” and “Club” series OST by Anastasiya Zadorozhnay.

So you started with video and then moved to photography?

Yes, I did. A year and a half ago I recommenced photographing.

Just a year and half? Are you kidding? You have the archive that people have to make for 10 years approximately. What is your secret of success? Are you as busy as a bee? Are you extremely popular? Or is it just luck?

I started photographing, somebody liked it, then I began to make fashion shootings and understood that I had something to suggest to this industry. There were ideas and wish to embody them. Later when I had entered SPSU (Saint Petersburg State University) at Faculty of liberal arts and science I got comprehension what I did and so was my professional development that has been lasting to the present time.

Why did you choose fashion? Is it possible to say that you are directly engaged in commercial and photography let you earn money?

Today I earn more money rather by another kind of commercial shootings than by fashion ones. For example, I have been working as a family photographer for guys some since recently. It is quite strange but they are so cool, advanced dudes, they respect the very things I like in photography: “flash into face”, everything bright and contrast, and chaos, so I make photographs in this style for them.

How did they find you or was it you who found them? 

At the very beginning I worked with them under order by “SOBAKA” magazine, and then they wrote me and started following me. So I would like to say that social networks are very important part.

Could you tell us about the exhibition in details? How long has it been existing? Who is Andrey Glazkov?

I met Andrey this spring. At that moment he was a head of house management, he was responsible for different technical stuff and walls cleanliness in entrances and so on. There is an interesting duality here because he painted all these walls at the exhibition while in working time he ensured the walls were clean. It is funny. Andrey is my inspirational hero. He helped me in creation of this exhibition; he is my colleague, and that was our conjoint exhibition. Andrey turned out be kind of catalyst for me, and we started working together – we decorated street spaces which were limited sometimes (a cabin of size 2x2 meters for example). I printed my photographs and then we stuck them in the streets and arranged the space around us in a new fashion. Then I suggested that we should make similar project inside the space of my friend from Loftshoper Store and Andrey agreed. Four walls inside exhibits got new perspective; space isolation gave positive spirit and richness to exhibition, both due to compact photographs placing and colour scheme. I wanted people to be inspired with the structure but not with emotions by themselves. For these people the photographs, the images could be actualized in a very different way rather than for me, they could create some new story, their own “delirium construct”.

Is it a name of exhibition - “delirium construct”?

Yes, it is.

Have you been satisfied with the exhibition already? You know in the course of time attitude to the work is changing, isn’t it?

There is the film “The Passions” by Kira Muratova, where the character of Renata Litvinova (Russian actress) talks in the end that a moment of beauty can last for a second, for a minute and for a year, nevertheless it is very short-lived. And I think the exhibition could please me for a second once. But now I am tired of watching it already.

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{dich}I prefer the Dionysian approach to art when everything is born in randomness, anxiety and affect. Speaking about series one photograph seems to me be very poor to have enough impact especially in terms of nowadays so it is very important to think by series today.{/dich}
Would you determine these photographs as series? Is there any concept or principle by which photographs were chosen?

In my opinion there are two possible variants in the terms of creation process: the first one is when you have some idea and you embody it purposefully choosing materials and making something you have planned; though another approach is closer to me – you make something unconsciously – you photograph, sculpture, draw and paint – so you get some archive and then you watch everything you have and try to analyze and understand what your art is about. Photography never lies, it can tell many things about any author. I prefer the Dionysian approach to art when everything is born in randomness, anxiety and affect. Speaking about series one photograph seems to me be very poor to have enough impact especially in terms of nowadays so it is very important to think by series today. While studying I attended courses about five general cases of Dr. Freud and that has inspired me to use structures. There was such a dude Schreber, he worked as a judge and everything was ok, but then he got a little nervous disorder, then half-asleep the idea of how it would be pleasant to "succumb" to sexual intercourse as a woman came. After that he experienced awful hallucinations in which he saw how his body  had been decomposed, he had heard voices, and he seemed to talk with his hospital doctor (homosexual passion to this doctor was the very reason of mental disease). But once everything had finished. Schreber behaved quite normal from the first sight but he thought that he would become a woman in the love of people’s save. As the judge though he was only the person who could speak with God Schreber felt “divine rays” inside that ruled him. Delirium construct is a mind defense mechanism preventing multiple personality against the background of impossibility to satisfy your own desires and passions. This delirium construct is made of all the things in our life but some of them turn out to be distorted due to passions. So do I when I am working with my archive –I make something new from the archive. It is kind of delirium, though it is still very accurate and certain construction. It has its own reasons and results.

Sasha, why are there so many colours in your works? Are you a merry boy? Or do you just like colour and emphasize it intentionally?

I think it is in style of sick smile. I develop a colour to its sick acid gradations; there is more rebel, anger and sharpness in it. I can compare it to English label PC Music. They use Pop tracks in extremely fastened variant so lovely conformist Pop transforms into sensual and dark deconstruction. Happy Hardcore in few words.

Is it hard to be a photographer-boy and to compete with girls who are the most?

Cool, such a gender-based question. I have never thought about it as a matter of fact. Only one fact comes to my mind: there is a magazine “Boys by Girls” with not bad style, and I wanted to make something for them, but I couldn’t send them anything because their main principle is your gender, a photographer must be a girl. It is not a big deal, of course, there are a lot of such magazines, but the fact remains.

What is beauty for you?

For me beauty is a very strong emotion, an affect. 

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{dich}Actually I believe that everything is random and chaotic; there is no cause-effect without cultural superstructures that organize life – religion and moral, for example. Any relation could be invented only by means of culture.{/dich}
Has such a mood happened when you don’t want to work at all – the same as writer’s block? Though you are young enough as a photographer for such a phenomenon…

You know, it hasn’t happened ever. I always want to photograph and to create something. Perhaps that is the leitmotif of my life. I don’t have any other reference points and guiding lines. Everything is comparative – things that are good for one are bad for another. Actually I believe that everything is random and chaotic; there is no cause-effect without cultural superstructures that organize life – religion and moral, for example. Any relation could be invented only by means of culture. Human being is the only creature in the Earth who has symbolic system. Culture and symbolic structuring give life its meaning and make life more filled. All of these are so synthetic but a human can’t live in cultural society without it. I do my best to escape these superstructures (but it’s impossible in full measure) and to live by means of my feelings generally.

Sasha, is there any revolution in the world of fashion? Is it changeable? Probably different cities have different fashions. Let’s speak about global level. What is fashion for you in general?

Fashion is art on the one hand… I recently read interview with cool young Russian designer Tigran Avetisyan in which he told that fashion industry was false of course but fashion could be defined with oxymoron “truthful false”. Clothes making is art that has utilitarian aim from the very beginning. I can hardly call it false because we buy and wear artworks.

What are you interested in as an artist?

I am interested in searching of Russian authentic. It is kind of aura that forms through collective perception. Today this aura indicates 90th and 00th rather than nowadays due to appearance of Russian history industry after Gosha Rubchinskiy in the world stage. Russia started to scent of post-soviet romanticism and today all the materials about Russia by Dazed are about panel houses, raves in 90th and how we live with this heritage. I would like to shift the accent to later times – to nowadays. As any other culture today it is a fusion, mix, and stratification, but I think that it is possible to separate Russian culture elements and make some extract from them, squeezing of dirty, comic, hearty and melancholic Russian style. I do like RASEYANSTVO public page (is closed now). From the first sight it could look like ordinary mockery of “being Russian”. But I see a careful anthropological survey in it where an anthropologist just watch and record while keeping distance between surrounding and himself. Such contemplation is very important for me at the inspiration stage. However as an artist I should go further – in my research the next step is entrance, interaction with environment (it happens in itself because I live here), and as a result deconstruction and composing something new from original data, through personal emotional experience and passing through myself.

I can’t help asking – why Chaika? (in Russian it means “seagull”)

It is very simple. It is my last name.

What do you read usually?

I don’t like reading. I seem not to read a book from cover to cover. I grow cool towards reading very quickly. In my study I have read something but it is academic literature mostly that is interesting for me from both theoretical and practical perspective. It helps me a lot in my creation.

Tell us about your dream.

I wish I had much favorite work and spent time with interesting people.

As you are a fashion expert you should have favorite magazine, shouldn’t you?

I have a lot.

So let’s compliment somebody.

Hm, at the moment I like Novembre, 032C, Office, Document, Double (I’m ecstatic about album format). I like works by Olivier Zahm so Purple is classic of underground fashion for me though it is still a very serious and commercially strong magazine. From the beginners I like internet resource YOU DO YOU devoted to genderqueer.

Do you have tattoos?

No, I don’t. Even if I do something I will apply to self-design. I like the idea of body-memory by means of small tattoos. And that’s cool when you've got many of them, it looks like corporal tight long sleeve Ed Hardy or MM6 (there everybody should decide by himself).

Could you share your plans for future?

I have a lot of work at the moment nevertheless little by little I am reaching new project that is going to be a zen book. I will tell you just synopsis: Guys, Self-affection and Photogenic.

How do you relax?

Sometimes I sleep, and sometimes I take ecstasy and go dancing.

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