Women Crush Wednesday: Alena Zhandarova
Born in Ivanovo, Alena Zhandarova received her M.F.A. in Fine Art Photography from the European Institute of Design in Madrid. Her work has been represented in numerous exhibitions, including Europian Center of Arts in Germany, Kyosato Photographic Museum of Photographic Arts in Japan, Museum of Modern Art "Erarta" in Russia, Pingyao Photography Festival in China, Copenhagen Photo Festival in Denmark, Backlight Photo Festival in Finland, Phodar Photo Biennal in Bulgaria, Perm Photo Festival in Russia, Meyrin Cultural Center in Switzerland, Aarhus Art Center in Denmark, Getty Images Gallery in England, among others. She is the finalist of Lucie Foundation Scholarship, LensCulture Student Award, honorable mention of Encontros da Imagem Festival in Portugal, finalist of Art.Laguna Prize in Italy and finalist of Photovisa Festival in Russia. View more of her work here.
Interviewed by Jing Zhao
I would like to talk about your series “The City of Brides”, which focus on photographing young women in your hometown, Ivanovo. Could you tell us what’s this project about and how the city influences your work?
This is the story about continuity of what is happening and the continuation of the internal to the outside. It is also about overcoming and erasing boundaries as I photographed the girls whom I met for the first time. I started with the legend about my city inasmuch as it’s well known as “The City of Brides” in Russia. Ivanovo in the soviet past was the capital of textile in USSR and a lot of young girls came there to work on the factories.
What strikes me right away is that they embrace your unique visual language, which is playful, off beat and human. In this particular series, I feel like you are more interested in showing your first impression of subjects than revealing the “truth” in them. Is this what you are going for? What’s your thoughts toward this?
I didn’t have a goal to show the inner world of the person. It was more important for me to visualise our communication and make the portrait of myself and the girl exactly in this moment and environment.
I am curious, how did you choose your subjects and how did you communicate with them for the set up?
I was looking for the natural and flexible faces, to which I was drawn. Firstly I came to their houses, we got acquainted, drank tea and speak about something. Later on we began to seek the background and clothes after the first voltage subsided. Usually I’m shooting in a silence using only gestures.
Could you tell us a shoot that has posed a particular challenge and why?
The girl with the tulle on her head was very uneasy as she didn’t understand why does I photograph her if I don’t show the face.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on the photo-book about my great grandfather and his adventures in Japan.
1. How would you describe your creative process in one word?
2. If you could teach one, one-hour class on anything, what would it be?
The lesson about how to combine incompatible
3. What was the last book you read or film you saw that inspired you?
In the light of sun by Vitaly Mansky (film about North Korea)
4. What is your most played song in your music library?
5. How do you take your coffee?
I don’t drink coffee