Can you follow Alena Zhandarova's photo story?
The 24-year-old photographer channels Sherman, Wall and Crewdson in her fictionalised self-portrait series
Alena Zhandarova's photos aren't your typical twentysomething's Instagram upload. The 24-year-old Russian artist says her self-portrait series is "the story about one girl, her attitude to life, time and the space around her. Each photo has a different state, which at the end of the story creates a new complete picture."
Born in Ivanovo, four hours west of Moscow, Zhandarova found fame most recently for her more documentorial series, City of Brides, wherein she photographed eligible women from her home town - known as the City of Brides, thanks to the high number of young female workers employed in the local textiles factory.
However, in her current set of images, Cornflower Tea and Concealing Chocolate - most recently shown at the Copenhagen Photo Festival - Zhandarova creates an air of magic and playfulness, with images that could be filed somewhere between Cindy Sherman, Jeff Wall and Gregory Crewdson. Ordinary objects crop up in unusual situations: a stack of books forms a hat; Zhandarova lays her head a top a table with a ruffled cloth; she holds a cat up to obscure her face. In others, only single body parts can be seen or she contorts herself into unnatural positions.
Though winsome, the images are well composed, with an engaging employment of colour and form. They urge the viewer to draw up his or her own narrative, without quite giving them enough biographical information or fictional detail to go on.
As Zhanarova sees it, the series is about "the moment; it's about what's going on right now. About the uniqueness and value, the importance of each second. About the questions 'Why?' and answers 'because accidents are not accidental,'" she says. "There is always something happening around us. There are no unimportant moments. Each of them teach us something; each of them leave something very important behind all of us."
While the exact importance isn't clear in every image, we certainly think Zhanarova's images are going to remain with us for some time to come. For more, visit her site, and for further contemporary photography coverage, consider our Jeff Wall book, our as well as Vitamin Ph, our definitive work on contemporary photography, featuring 121 international artists.