As part of introducing the personalities who collaborate with Bohemian Taboo, we interviewed photographer Anna Kopkova.
Hi, Anna. Since you are working with our platform Bohemian Taboo, I would like to ask you a few questions. You are currently exhibiting your series Nymphs of Garbage at the G18 gallery in Poděbrady. Tell us something about this work of yours? Why and how was it created?
Nymphs of Garbage is the result of my PhD studies in the Fine Arts program at the Technical University of Liberec. This project on the theme: Plastics as Mutating Matter is a tribute to a completely unique material - plastic. Without this material there would be no modern world, but people have started to abuse this material recklessly and its subsequent processing or ecological disposal after its mostly very short use works only minimally. So as a photographer, I wondered if it is possible to further transform or transform this plastic rubbish and then use it within photography? In collaboration with the Faculty of Art and Architecture, Textile and Mechanical Engineering at TUL, I came up with a very unconventional method by which photographs can be transferred in a really large format (1.5m x2m) to a specific specific plastic waste with primarily very short-term use. Thanks to this specific authorial method, the large-format photographs are complete originals, which then resemble rather renaissance paintings sometimes with a touch of hyperrealism.
What makes you work with nudity so often in your work?
The female body and curves have inspired many an artist. I don't only work with models in my free work, but with all women who are close to my work. I work with the naked body as a material, mostly without a face, which I transform into different poses within a certain scene. I try to disembody the actresses. Fashion, clothing and its design gives the body expression, style, opinion, social status, etc. and creates a certain symbolism that is already extra and rather undesirable for my photographic stories. For me, women are the heroines of everyday life and I try to give them a safe intimate space to "throw away" their social roles and be themselves. These nude photo sessions are a possible escape from that mundane reality for all of us. The actresses have fun while helping me to visually recreate my dreamy surreal stories with a touch of decadence. I become more of a writer of the atmosphere and the photography becomes an accompaniment to that unconventional experience.
Before you embark on a new project, what do you think about beforehand and how long does it take to get from idea to result?
Projects are kind of shaped by the urge to create and interact with the world through photography. Sometimes these are lighter topics that focus more on visuals and sometimes they are issues with more depth and some sort of ideological message or need to inform the general public. Then I work on those for several years. The project may never be over, sometimes I come back to some of the photographs after a few years and further develop the idea or the photograph fits into a newer photo series. But I always guess the locations before each shoot, which I shoot in advance and then create specific sketches with compositions and poses so that the actors understand what I'm going for before the shoot. These suggestions act as a script for that particular photo shoot. Sometimes these sketches are followed exactly and sometimes they become more of an inspiration to create another photo.
Your exhibition in Poděbrady will include not only two guided tours, but also two workshops. I was particularly interested in the polaroid workshop with experimental image transmission. Polaroid has had its glory days, can you tell me more about how you imagine this workshop? Who is it for and what will participants learn there?
This workshop, which will take place on August 6 at the G18 gallery in Poděbrady, is a combination of several of my projects. Nude work is probably symbolic for me, so there will definitely be a nude model. This time it will be a professional, who is not ashamed to undress in front of several workshop participants and knows exactly what to do in front of the camera. In addition, she will be shooting with a Polaroid camera, where every picture must be well thought out because it has its price. The golden era of polaroid may not be back, but it has certainly had a great resurrection, thanks to the mass production of photographs by phone. These are in fact published at most somewhere on a social networking site and then disappear in a mass of photographic smog somewhere in the "matrix". Like analogue technology, Polaroid is for me a photographic category that has its own value and soul. Especially with polaroid, the raw photo comes out very quickly, without the possibility of retouching and filters. Moreover, with polaroid there is no possibility of repetition, so every polaroid photo is a complete original. Moreover, with polaroid you can take the photo gelatin off the base and then place it on any object. This is also a technique I used in one of my earlier projects, where I placed polaroid photo-gelatines on flowers, which subsequently tore them apart with their blooming or de-blooming, or conversely, the gelatines deformed the flowers.
This workshop is for anyone who wants to try their hand at Polaroid nude photography or portraiture or just industrial space. I have invited Polaroid.cz experts Michal Čap and Tomáš Nosek, who will help the participants with the technique of shooting with different types of Polaroids and their use. Participants will learn how to create the right composition, how to come up with a suitable pose for the model, how to work with daylight, reflections or how to help themselves with other light sources or how to experiment with Polaroid photo gelatin.
What are your other desires that you would like to fulfill? Photographic and personal ones?
I'm not much of a long term planning ahead person. I've definitely had a theme in my head for about 2 years for a photo that needs to be shot in the summer, it takes at least 15 people of different genders and ages, about 3 assistants and a good insurance policy for photo equipment Summer always flies by and I find I haven't managed to organise it again. But I'll shoot it, but it's hard to say when. I'm focusing a lot on finishing my PhD at the moment. The fun part of experimenting is over, unfortunately, and now I have to deal with the school bureaucracy like rigorous thesis, exams and defenses.
In terms of commercial work, I am now thinking about how to combine my "porn elegance", which is quite often on the edge, with mixed nude sessions. Here it's very important to think well about how to conceive and organize it, because it's already working with a different atmosphere and energy of the two "opposites", and here it's very easy to slip from the edge into a genre I don't want to go into, because it's the "edge" that I enjoy the most. Although in the perception of some people, especially my mother, I've been over the edge quite a lot.
Anna Kopkova was asked by Michal Rejzek.