Aleks Faust; Post-Readymade in Photography

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June 13, 2024
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Aleks Faust, Chorus Arts Featured Artists 23/24, has recently collaborated with THe Tavistock Centre on a collection of his photography, ENVIRONmental. An exploration into the parallels between discarded rubbish and the way people rid their own negative emotions.

Shedding light from both artist and curator perspective, this interview with Emma Stones (Chorus Arts) Aleks Faust and curator, theorist and artist, Yarolslav Klochkov, answers questions on the inspirations, themes, processes and collaborations inherent in Aleks' own work.

[YK] Order, chaos, meditation, experiences, environment, objects, time.

These are terms without which it is impossible to describe and understand Aleks' work. His series takes us to the intersection of the material world, the mind, and spirituality through the perception of artist's vision. The works encompass a multitude of experiences, personal spirituality, a keen sense of beauty, the passage of time, and the fragility of the present moment. Aleks' series are a reflection and a philosophical narrative about time, society, and the author's place within this environment. Despite the pure and transparent, sometimes sterile, perception of the world, Aleks' photographs address fundamental and troubling social issues.

[ES] You sometimes present images as pairs. What is the process behind this selection?

[AF] Intuition, irony, humour, and philosophical meanings come to mind. Sometimes it could be a subconscious call when I see it as the right thing to do. However, these criteria change over time, and so does the selection process. Besides, when two separate works become a diptych, they empower each other, creating a new narrative and story behind it.

[YK] The foundation of Aleks' creative process is the observation of society and the surrounding space. The basis of his visual is a mix of composition, form, the moment, and the proportion of the object to its surrounding space in the frame. Besides, Aleks' equipment is very minimalist and optimal for daily use. These allow him to achieve a meditative state of presence in the moment during the shooting process. Putting everything else aside, Aleks engages in a visual dialogue with the urban environment where photography is a form of communication.

Brought up in a post-Soviet society with strong relations to the past, such experiences rooted and strongly affected Aleks’ creative perception. As his visual language developed, the memory of objects and habits from the past began to be reproduced in his works and extended beyond mere recollection. Aleks once told me, “The things and habits from my childhood are still there (in the memories). When I find discarded items, they trigger memories of similar objects from my past.” This led him to discover the connection between objects, habits, behaviour, and environment, which became one of the central themes of his work, in which he examines society through its traces.

The theme developed further when Aleks relocated to London. The new environment and visual surroundings facilitated a deepening of reflection within his visual narrative. Disparate ideas, images, skills, and conclusions began to coalesce into a cohesive artistic work. Over time,Aleks incorporated portraiture into his work, adopting his distinctive visual style. In these portraits, which convey the external appearance of individuals, as well as their personality traits and moods, Aleks rejects rudimentary principles. He creates images that reveal aspects of the collective personality and its behaviour under the influence of time and society. As a concept, this portrait style was also integrated into works that do not feature human images per se, but instead portray the collective personality through the depiction of objects associated with human activity through the depiction of objects associated with human activity.

[ES] How did the collaboration between mental health and your photography come about?

[AF] ‘There are two significant factors that influenced my work. The first factor was a relocation to London back in 2021. Upon arrival, I immediately started noticing how people discard rubbish next to their homes. The city's multicultural nature and people's different backgrounds significantly affect how they dispose of garbage and unwanted items. The second factor is meditation. It strongly influences creativity and perception of life. I question what I see and how I can perceive the same things differently. Imagine putting on granddad’s glasses and entering a room you know well; one you’ve been in so many times before. You recognize it, but simultaneously, through these uncanny lenses you see it differently. This is precisely what I am aiming to achieve, showcasing familiar items in my work but leaving people to decide and layer meanings.’

"The eye exists in a primal wild state" (Breton, 1924)

[YK] Post-readymade would be the term that encapsulates the artistic essence of Aleks' work. The key to the narrative no longer lies in the object and its modernised meaning but in the photographic image of the object. The contemporary, flexible form of photography enables the construction of an analytical process based on images obtained automatically. Visual material is accumulated by the artist spontaneously and chaotically. Here,chaos is essential in a striving towards order. Aleks places images of everyday objects at the centre of attention, endowing them with abstract meaning and forming a narrative whose theme is entirely original and naturalistic. This theme is developed through the analysis of photographic images created in a state of contemplative creative process.

[ES] What is your artistic process? How do you begin a collection?

AF: ‘I take photos on the streets, often guided by an intuitive call to capture a shot, even if its significance isn't immediately clear. After transferring the photos to my laptop, I start the selection process, grouping the images, printing them, and evaluating how they work together. During this process, I notice similarities and begin forming series based on them. However, it takes time to form the strong series that’s why I repeat those steps again and again before I get satisfied.’

[YK] When chaos becomes excessive, systematic combinations emerge from it. The creative process can be likened to a primordial soup (A. Oparin, 1924). It's an endless process of chaotic interactions, resulting in combinations that lead to development, capable of contemplation and realization. Over time, the images in the photographic series transform, coalesce, and weave into a nonlinear narrative. Here, the narrative is crafted from the sensations and interpretations of what is seen, filtered through the prism of subjective experience and catharsis. It is the creation of new experiences, born from the contemplation of these works, that fosters a deeper understanding of the themes articulated through Aleks' abstract storytelling.

ENVIRONmental exhibition will be on from 28 June to 29 July, 2024

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March 22, 2023
Aleks Faust; Post-Readymade in Photography