Photography of Yulia Artemyeva from Russia

Yulia Artemyeva was born in Gorky (Nizhny Novgorod) in 1983. She completed a degree in Economics in 2006. She started to work in photography from 2010. In 2015, she received the title of Excellence Artist of FIAP (EFIAP) from The International Federation of Photographic Art (FIAP, France). Her works have been exhibited at group exhibitions throughout Europe, North and South America and Asia. She is a winner and finalist of international photography competitions and festivals. This post features her two projects namely ‘Anchors’ and ‘One soul in two bodies’.


Before I came to work in the genre of Social Investigation, I had gone a huge way in Photographic Art, intentionally creating complicated multi-layer compositions in Photoshop, then in Street Photography, including using film cameras. Social investigation based on the unbreakable connection between the model and his or her natural social environment, staged but with minimal, conscious retouching, has become a sort of golden mean between these two vectors.

Statement : To me, photography is a way of investigating human nature in its relation to the living environment. I would define my area of work as socio-psychological portraiture. The entire micro-world people are surrounded by speaks of them just as explicitly as a verbal text would do. Creating a personal space turns into an identity practice: a person chooses things not according to their functional value, but according to their potential to bring the imagined to reality to the extent life permits. This way a portrait is merged into interior or a still-life where the model shifts to the background, while still retaining the main focus of my interest.

I strongly defend traditional values. Family, a link between generations, preservation of heritage, building up the everyday world, the archetypal images of beauty, childhood, femininity and masculinity form the basis of my artistic paradigm, which still implies reconsideration and actualization of these concepts in the process of work. As long as these concepts belong among stereotypes, they do not work or relate to the personality of the viewer. Breaking those stereotypes again and again in our social series, we make them part of the actual culture.

Statement – “Anchors” : While working on this project, I was looking at reasons why people choose to stay in bed while the society requires them to be active from morning till night, unless they get sick, either physically or emotionally. All the characters of the shooting are healthy and socially active; nevertheless their resting place is where sacred meanings are concentrated for them. Activity, frozen for the outside world, is transferred within. There it turns not only into dreams, but also into plans, spontaneous decisions, insights, to say nothing of the fact that energy that isn’t put into action ends up restoring the sleeper’s health.

The characters of the project are different in terms of gender, age and social status. However, each of them can be compared to an anchored boat, hidden in a quiet harbor. For some people this anchor is represented by happy memories, for others by the need to restore themselves, the urge to feel safe, a wish to feel like a child. In this frozen moment of rest, when the entire outside world is cut off in order to activate the inner world, the person practically blends in the surroundings – the things, the bed, the interior. The circle closes, and the portrait becomes closely interlaced with a still-life.

I was inspired to do this project by my husband who loves taking a rest lying down. This is absolutely not typical for me because I’m always on the run. Trying to understand him, I got to know many people like him, who appreciate lying down for rest. While this series of shots was building up, a whole new world opened up to me.

Statement – “One soul in two bodies” : The presence of an animal in the portrait of a person is one of the most popular ways of depicting the personality of the model in the world’s art. The animal’s features, sometimes funny, sometimes threatening, project onto the model, defining, and sometimes contrasting with how the viewer perceives it. A classical approach is to depict a commander mounted on horseback in a ceremonial portrait, or a bird as a symbol of soul in children’s ceremonial portraits of the Renaissance. At present, this approach is being developed within the genre of psychological art-portrait.

Also, there are multiple social psychological researches on the principles which influence the people’s choice of pets. The question whether the personality of the animal is similar to the temperament of the owner or  the owner chooses a sort of “back-up” in the form of a pet in certain life circumstances still remains unsolved. However, the fact that the way the animals look matches and contributes to the image of the owner serves as kind of a prism through which we make judgments about him or her leaves no doubt.

This series is an attempt to impersonalize the model as much as possible. What does the owner of this pet look like? How did he or she create this space? What is his or her life like? What are his or her interests? The viewer can only invent details – these portraits only depict the model’s belongings, not their faces.

The question “Who am I?” is a fundamental question of human nature. We look into ourselves all the time, discovering more and more boundaries of Self while socializing, looking for what makes us similar to book and movie characters, imagining things. In search of analogies, we cling to images that trigger lots of associations which allow us to get to know more about ourselves. This process influenced me and I’m keen on searching unknown in simple day-to-day things.

All photos © Yulia Artemyeva : Website | Instagram | Facebook

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