Seemingly minimalist at first glance, the works of Olha Stepanian conceal multiple stories for every viewer to discover. Like the beloved childhood madeleine cake, which triggers an episode of nostalgic recall in the protagonist of Marcel Proust’s novel in seven volumes À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time), the artist’s mysterious and touching frames evoke a whirlwind of involuntary memories, turning our gazes inward. Time is cyclical: are we looking at daguerreotypes from a bygone age or directly in the mirror? Olha Stepanian pays homage to her favourite photographers – Rodney Smith, Sally Mann, Henri Cartier-Bresson… among her subjects we see men in bowler hats, dramatic women, and surrealistic scenes that unfold upon the liminal flatness of the beach, a place where water, sand, and air meet. Yet these images have a peculiar dynamic and freshness that is all their own.
“Every photograph is a separate story. I look for props and costumes among friends, though it’s easy to find clothes in thrift shops and alter them to fit the model (here my seamstress training comes in handy). I love details, and it is these details that sometimes give birth to an interesting storyline. Locations for photoshoots always depend on the concept. When I get an idea, I sketch it out, which is why my photoshoots are quick – I always know exactly how everything should look! For instance, “The Girl with the Ball” was a photo I dreamed of making for two years. Finally, I was able to hire this giant, incredibly heavy ball. I had to rent a van and some loaders. We arrived at the location, which was out of town, I put the girl in place, and in a matter of minutes created a billowing dress from a huge piece of fabric. The entire shoot took all of 15 minutes, including the set-up. After that, the loaders, who keenly observed the process, asked: “Is this it? Is this what you spend so much time and money on?” “YES! Exactly! And it’s worth it!” – shares Olha Stepanian.
These photographs were captured using a Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera and printed on Epson Fine Art Paper Hot Press Bright. Epson Fine Art Hot Press Bright is a smooth matte fine art paper with a heavy 300gsm weight. Hot Press Bright Paper is made from 100% cotton rag and has a high white point. Prints on Hot Press have a high colour gamut and black density. 96 ISO Brightness. 98% opacity. This bright white inkjet paper is acid-free, 100% cotton and pH buffered.
Olha Stepanian was born in 1984 in Kyiv, Ukraine. She graduated from the Sumy College of Textile Design. In 2009 she took up photography, and in 2011 moved to Cherkasy, where she lives and works. Stepanian took part in the Kuala Lumpur International Photo Awards in Malaysia, “Family” section, and was entered into the Top 25 finalists of 2017. She received the 2nd Prize at the Montreal Nude Photography Competition in Canada, and took part in the Bavarian cultural festival Arts in Munich for two consecutive years. Her work has been covered in the British and German press.
Where and When:
Triptych: Global Arts Workshop
21.02 – 06.03.2019