It started in my adolescent years. At that time I’ve been living on the working class
outskirts of Post-Soviet Moscow, had no internet access at home and possessed a
tormented sexuality. I didn’t know any gay people, and yet my father said he’d kill me if I
was one of them. I felt alien to the environment so imbued with traditionalism, and to
assemble my own private version of that world I started taking photographs.
Gloomy high-rises were ridden with hopelessness, and were hardly beautiful…
But the good thing about photography was that I could just find the right angles,
and crop bits out of reality, until reality gives in, bends, and stops to suffocate.
And thus photography became my freedom. Or at least it’s substitute.
Since then my work evolved into a continuous exploration of power and mechanisms of
oppression with a focus on human resistance to different versions of crises.
I’m intrigued by events and ideas that embody the conflict of ‘individual’ and ‘collective’,
so with my photographs I strive to engage the viewers into contemplation on their own
role in society. I approach political issues in a non-moralistic, often paradoxical way—like portraying something abhorrent as very beautiful—in order to trigger an emotional
response from the audience. A lot of my photographs are a documentation of staged
physical performances, which borrow significantly from the vocabulary of contemporary
I never told my parents I am gay. I was born in Moscow a few years before the fall of the USSR. On the working-class outskirts of that city, homosexuality is meant to be suppressed.
So I felt alienated from my environment.
But what does it mean to fit in?
After relocating to the Netherlands, I realized being gay in the East feels a lot like being a migrant artist in the West. It seems like I’m losing my cultural identity, that I am slowly surrendering to Calvinist sterility.
Both my native world of grey panel housing and the world of endlessly white Dutch walls equally expect me to comply to their ‘norms’. Because every culture demands a chunk of your freedom, and every society strives to grind down the misfits.
I worked with people sharing experiences similar to mine — migrants, gays,
or both — until boundaries between personal and collective emotions were blurred. The resulting story unfolds through imagery that would be considered almost forbidden in my native homophobic context.
This is my ultimate exercise to accept who I am.
A look at what has formed me.
And a bang of the head against a white wall.
It all started like a journey into the past.
Like washing away whom I was.
But I was so busy healing old wounds
That I didn't notice,
How a new one was starting to grow, itch and ache.
Infecting me, us, my project, our life.
In Cold Dust I address the state of in-betweenness experienced by a migrant,
whose past is obscured, and the present—scarred. I talk about emotional fragility
caused by relocation as a political choice, and what me and my husband recently
went through to keep us afloat.
A series of performances exploring body language of political protest and iconography of resistance to acts
of police brutality. Project was exhibited during UNSEEN Photo Fair 2017 as part of a group show Let Me Tell You About.
What is life if not a succession of power plays in which we have one or the other role? In my project
Brief History of Power Play I have directed a series of performances, in which subjects were
offered a variety of ‘enemies’ on whom they could exert their power, fall under their control or engage
in exchange of applicable forces. They may be perceived as both direct examples of power play and
figures standing for it metaphorically.
An instagram account set up under a false name, an alias, an alter ego. Would my style of
photography stand a better chance at recognition if I was Japanese? Project is a response
to aesthetic conventions existing in the photography world, and the difficulties to promote
work that doesn’t fit the narrative of expectation.
The search for embodiments of compliance to contemporary power structures. Together with French
choreographer Antonin Rioche we aimed to create a manifestation of a changing relation between
the State and what it demands from our bodies in the Cambridge Analytica era. Starting points for
the movements are based on effects of Shell Shock in WWI, and unmediated reactions from the performer
to the speeches by modern-day politicians. What happens when it’s just our digital data the government
needs, and not our flesh suffering in the trenches? And to what extent are we compliant to our own oppression?
Initiated by Foam Fotografie Museum Amsterdam for an exhibition at Les Rencontres d’Arles, project
is a long-distance collaboration with Myriam Bonaglia. Having started as exploration of long-held
labels surrounding male/female perception of fundamental dualities such as life and death or femininity
and masculinity, the project revolves around finding common ground through re-working, distorting and
sometimes destroying photographs of the partner as a trigger for intimacy when other forms of a long-distance
collaboration proved to be insufficient. Final result is a monumental installation—‘a breathing monument
to a failed collaboration’—a 30-meters roll of images intertwined with 15-meters roll of text on
transparent plastic. Together they form an object (4x2x2.5m) floating in the exhibition space, slowly being
destroyed by the draught in the building.
(Formerly known as 4 magazine)
Creative direction by Peter de Potter
Outfits by Stella Kim, Lina Lau, Nina Dekker, Angelica Danaka
Commissioned by Dutch magazine Vrij Nederland (see the project here).
Current level of terrorist threat to the Netherlands is set at ‘substantial’, level 4 on the scale of 1 to 5. Does this mean we should be worried?
And how are we being protected from terror attacks? In order to answer these questions I turned to examining the Dutch Counter-terrorism strategy 2016—2020, a publicly available document.
There one can find 5 defining elements to dealing with the threat, which are called ‘areas of intervention’. These include : Procure, Prevent, Protect, Prepare, Pursue (Verwerven, Voorkomen, Verdedigen, Voorbereiden, Vervolgen).
My project strives to visualise these concepts, which still sound abstract despite the familiarity of the words and their meaning. Not only I wish to decipher the inner logic of the State, and to comprehend the language of bureaucracy of power,
but I also want to invite people to contemplate our actual involvement in aspects of life we rarely think about. Do we ever read official releases published by the government?
Documents shaping up tax spendings? To what extent are we compliant to the doings of the government if we feel it starts abusing our rights in the name of fighting terror?
Documentation of production of the dance piece The Others by Antonin Rioche, commissioned by NDT & Korzo Theater.
Selected by Amsterdam nightclub Shelter to be their Artist of the Month in December 2017,
this work has been exhibited in the club throughout a month, and was used as promotional material on various platforms such as Resident Advisor, and on outdoor posters.
This project can be seen here.
Collection False Perceptions by Yuki Ito. 2018.
Alex Avgud (RU, 1986) is a photographer whose work is a continuous exploration of human resistance to mechanisms of oppression.
He approaches social and political issues in a manner that triggers an emotional response from the viewer,
often using the methodology of documenting physical performances.
2015—2019 BA Photography, Royal Academy of Arts (KABK). The Hague, Netherlands
2003—2009 MA Mathematics, National Research Nuclear University MEPhI. Moscow, Russia
SHOWS AND EXHIBITIONS
2019 Best of Graduates 2019, Galerie Ron Mandos, Amsterdam, Netherlands
2019 Royal Academy of Art Graduation Festival, The Hague, Netherlands
2019 Push it to the Limit (group). Melkweg Gallery, Amsterdam, Netherlands
2018 EYE on Art, EYE Film Museum. Amsterdam, Netherlands (group)
2018 Good Work, Grey Space in The Middle. The Hague, Netherlands (group exhibition)
2018 Het Magazijn. The Hague, Netherlands (solo exhibition)
2017 FOAM X Arles, FOAM Photography Museum at Les Rencontres d'Arles festival. Arles, France (group)
2017 Let Me Tell You About, UNSEEN Photo Fair. Amsterdam, Netherlands (group exhibition)
2017 Breath of Fresh Air, Royal Academy of Arts, The Hague, Netherlands (group exhibition)
2017 Shelter. Amsterdam, Netherlands (solo exhibition)
2019—Stroom KABK Invest Award
2013—PromaxBDA Gold Award (Los Angeles)—Made-for-television Movie Spot