Interview: Svetlana Fedotova
Luca Curci talks with Svetlana Fedotova during THE BODY LANGUAGE 2021 at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello.
Born on February 26, 1995, in Russia, Moscow. From 5 years old, she began studying dance and classical ballet at the Moscow State Academy of Choreography and contemporary studio dance ‘Impulse’. After finishing school, she became interested in contemporary art and creating her
own projects in dance, visual and video art. In 2012 she entered Moscow University of Management to study production, where she received her first bachelor’s degree. Up until 2018, she was a guest dancer and ballerina in Bolshoi Theatre and the Kremlin Ballet, creating projects in Russia and working as a choreographer. She practiced the ‘gaga’ style and participated in masterclasses by Akram Khan, Rebecca Hitting, Nico Monaco, and Konstantin Keichel. In 2018 she became the face of the Bakhrushinsky Museum, Moscow, as part of the Russian Seasons project. Also in 2018 she entered the State University of Milan and moved to Italy where continued her creative work. In 2019 was a participant in the projects CHANEL IN GOUDE WE TRUST! and OUTSIDE! FESTIVAL DEL FUORITEATRO in Milan. In 2020, influenced by the Covid-19 situation, she created “Body Surgeon”, a work that combined an experiment of the imagination and a sensual and bodily reflection of the state into which many of us have been plunged by the pandemic. Fear, emptiness, and the inability to change the situation; the abundance of TV news and the endless scrolling of the feed on the iPhone; the anxiety.
Luca Curci – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
Svetlana Fedotova – My whole life has been about creativity in one way or another. I’ve been dancing since I was 5 years old, or earlier, I don’t remember. My mother enrolled me in dancing, for which I’m madly grateful to her until now. Then there was ballet, attempts to escape from the ballet class to walk with friends or attempts to do something else: drawing, sports, acting… But it all came down to dance one way or another. There is so much more to movement than you can imagine. Our body is a mechanism that responds to everything that happens to us, everything we feel, everything we meet in life, everything we experience. The body is not attached to a language, so you can use it to talk to absolutely everyone, no matter where you are. Because if I spoke to you in Russian we would have a total disconnect, but this way, no matter where you’re from, if you can convey your thought through non-verbal means, you can tell your story. I think it was that experience and the sensory understanding that you can tell what you’re hurting about, what you care about through your body that most influenced my work.
LC – How did you get to your current artistic practice?
SF – When you do classical ballet, you realize that your path as a dancer is very predictable. But art is moving forward, art is transforming, art is looking for new forms, facets, possibilities of communication, so to be in the context you have to study it tirelessly, study yourself, retrain your body and train your mind. Ballet teaches a narrative: if the story isn’t linear, it’s bad; if you’re not dancing ‘happiness’ with a strained smile on your face, it’s not ‘happiness’. So, at some point, you come to know new facets of yourself and your capabilities. It turns out that feelings can not be ‘played’. It turns out that the ‘absence of physical movement’ is also movement. I began to engage in contemporary dance and performance, I became interested in physical theater and dance technique Gaga (created by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naarin). Of course, the observation, communication with professionals and constant practice. In addition, my partner Nikita Belykh helps me a lot in this, we did a performance with him at “The Body Language”. He is a choreographer and it is easier for him to evaluate something from the outside. Well, I’m continuing to study myself and this is a long way, probably never-ending. But it’s super interesting, that’s for sure.
LC – Do you use art to express something in particular? Is it like your medium of expression?
SF – Yes, as I said before, dance for me is the strongest means of expression, the most capacious, the most emotional. Through dance, you can probably express everything: pain, fear, anxiety, endless happiness and silence. Recently we organized a performance in Moscow in which the theme was, precisely, anxiety. There was no dance in the usual sense of the word. There was meditative music from Nicolas Jaar album, dimmed light and 10 performers, who talked about their anxieties in movement. It was cool, and it was clear from the audience’s responses that they were ‘hooked’ more than they would have been if it had been told in words.
LC – What is your creative process like?
SF – My creative process is very fickle. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to dance because my body is in a ‘clamp’ and then I have to start working from that. Therefore, I am always very much in favor of people being more attentive to their physiological state. I like to be guided by an idea, but not tied directly to what I’m creating. In the process, I like to be alone to run through what I want or don’t want to tell the viewer inside. I like to listen to music or observe something from the outside. It can’t be called «catch the muse», I just find so many cool moments in life that lead my mind to something interesting. Sometimes everything happens suddenly and by itself, you don’t have to think of anything, all the ingredients come together, and voila!
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
SF – To be an artist now is to respond to global trends and to be aware of all the major events in the art world. For example, the digitalization of art is firmly in place in today’s world, and there is no escaping it. Performance and video-art are now easily translated into NFT-token, which can be easily resold for big money, although until recently this was a huge question for everyone: how to sell ‘immovable’ art. So, it’s not Banksy alone!
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the festival?
SF – The theme of the festival I could not pass by, and probably it was for a reason: movement + art = what I love so much. There are a lot of ideas that I would like to still implement or try, within the exhibition space and in general. So, it’s great that you created such a space and gave many people the opportunity to tell their stories.
LC – Can you explain something about the performance you held in our exhibition?
SF – Yes, our performance with Nikita was built on the theme of “post-pandemic syndrome” when people are so used to the new reality that other things seem foreign to them already: the absence of masks, the freedom of being in space, close contact and socialization. Dating during the pandemic or shortly thereafter is always a big question: What can I do? What can’t I do? Has the distance between us gotten too close? Does he have a mask? Has he got the vaccine? Or maybe he already has the antibodies? I think our performance was built on paradoxical things that concern us.
LC – What do you think about the organization of our event?
SF – It was great, despite the restrictive measures. You did a really important thing at a time like this: you helped people reconnect through art.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
SF – Absolutely, and if it were possible I would like to extend this collaboration for the longest possible time!
LC – What are your suggestions about our services? Is there something more we can provide to artists?
SF – I think you did the best you could at a time when it’s already difficult. Many artists need to know that their ideas will be supported, listened to and considered, many need influence from galleries because there are many more works of art than venues in which to show or exhibit them. Keep giving chances, keep making people happy, and bring art to the masses! We have a great story to tell!