NO FAIRY TALES
Katerina Belkina takes us into a fairytale world that she places beyond Disney kitsch or psychoanalysis. What is important to her is an enigmatic mood that leaves room for transformation. She tells how the series based on Grimm's fairy tales was created with the help of outdoor shots and Photoshop.
The works of Belkina confirm the realization that an artist has to travel countless paths in order to create a masterpiece at the end. She has that in common with her fairy tale characters. After struggling tirelessly through a thorn forest, they not only changed their destiny, but also changed themselves.
The photographer can look back on a solid academic education. What is more important, however, is that she tried out many artistic styles: In her first known series, she staged herself as female figures in paintings by artists ranging from Lukas Cranach to Egon Schiele, perfectly reproducing their painting style in photographs. In another project, she borrowed from socialist realism and western advertising language.
In her current cycle based on the stories of the Brothers Grimm, there are all sorts of references to Romantic landscape painting: panoramas in the style of vedute, tondos popular in historicism and, of course, rural idylls.
All her knowledge Belkina had to retrieve in a short time. Because her prize at the 2016 Hasselblad Masters in Fine Art was not only a Hasselblad H5D with three lenses, but also included that Hasselblad funded her for a three-month project. That sounds generous, but the time is very tight for a photo series. After all, she had to tailor costumes, make props, determine the locations and choose the models.
The fact that Belkina was successful does not owe her to witchcraft. The magic formula is: artistic flair and versatility.
"Cut Lilies". In the fairy tale of the twelve brothers, they symbolize the death of the siblings. But of course everything turns out fine and the brothers are released from their raven form.
THE PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER IN AN INTERVIEW
FOTOHITS: Some photographers accuse a montage of being "just" Photoshop. what is your answer?
Katerina Belkina: There is a belief that Photoshop has magic buttons that make every photo better. In fact, I use its brush tool like the real thing. While it lacks the smell and color pigments, the hand movements and feel remain the same.
FOTOHITS: They could even have given the fairy tales a Disney look. Why did you renounce it?
Katerina Belkina: The images for the fairy tale texts first appear in the mind, but we use illustrations or films. I wanted to avoid my works repeating certain stereotypes. This not only affects the design, but also well-known scenes: Cinderella loses her shoe, Snow White bites the apple. I focused on the basic idea: a character moves from A to B, which is less of a geographical than an emotional path in which the person changes. In the modern world, this is neglected: everyone is connected and travelling, but nobody really arrives at home internally.
FOTOHITS: In fact, fairy tales are always about existential changes: children left alone, moving abroad...
Katerina Belkina: That's why I called the series "Dream Walkers". We move in a similar way when we want to find solutions to our problems. Accordingly, I chose the landscapes in which the characters move. What is decisive is less the one magical moment, but an atmosphere in which everything can change. This is not tied to a distant place, it can arise directly in our living environment. Like fairy tales, landscapes are timeless: mountains and fields remain. Therefore, it is easy to create a certain atmosphere like in a time machine.
FOTOHITS: Were the selected backgrounds in your area?
Katerina Belkina: Since my daughter was just over a year old, we couldn't travel far anyway. All recording locations were therefore only allowed to be two to three hours away. For example, we drove to the wonderful Saxon Switzerland. Luckily it had just snowed and for a short time we were able to take advantage of a nice light situation. Also, I only had three months to complete the project. But I was able to fall back on friends and acquaintances as models. Since there are so many different types of people living in Berlin, this again helped to avoid stereotypes. After all, it is not written anywhere that Frau Holle has to be of German origin.
FOTOHITS: Her works are strongly reminiscent of Romantic painting. Stylistic, as they appear true to life but idealized. In terms of content, the landscapes reflect states of mind. Was that a conscious decision?
Katerina Belkina: An artist makes use of the store in his head as if from boxes. In the end, it's all about expressing yourself. The thought process revolves more around how the image elements are grouped, among other things.
FOTOHITS: Did you specify the composition with sketches?
Katerina Belkina: Yes. The problem was that the light conditions change quickly. For example, the photo had to be taken within half an hour. On the one hand I have to be focused, on the other hand flexible. I take into account that the model, like an actress, first settles into this imaginary world. In the case of "The Three Little Men", however, that also meant walking around in a paper dress in the Ore Mountains when it was below zero.
Picture left: "Die drei Spinnerinnen". They rush to the aid of a lazy spinner who, moreover, has been put out of the drudgery forever.
Picture right: "Rosamund". Behind it is the classic all about Sleeping Beauty, who pricked herself with the spindle.
„Whisper“. Here Frau Holle is doubled. Finally, she distributes blessings or curses on the good or the naughty.
Picture above left: "The Blessing". Cinderella and her sisters are waiting for him, but only one gets him. The composition is reminiscent in many
Details of a rural scene from the Romantic period.
Picture below left: "The Spell" from the fairy tale "The Crystal Ball". A witch turns her sons into an eagle and a whale.
Picture above right: "The prediction": The three little men in the forest promise the rejected girl that it will be nicer every day when she talks
Pieces of gold fall out of her mouth and a king marries her.
Picture below right: "Trinity".