Interview: Tonya Ekimova
Luca Curci talks with Tonya Ekimova during RITUALS, first appointment of the ANIMA MUNDI 2022 art fair, at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello.
Tonya Ekimova is a Russian ballet photographer. Born in 1987 in Tosno, near St. Petersburg. During her school years, she studied classical ballet for 10 years. She started her professional activity in the field of photography in 2013 with family and wedding shootings. She has been shooting in the genre of ballet photography since 2019, and now this is one of the main directions of her activity. In her artworks, striving to convey the aesthetics of ballet lines and the elegance of dancers, Tonya creates unique, often metaphysical images. The inspiration is the painting of the Italian Renaissance, the artworks of French Impressionists, and the artwork of Russian Avant-garde artists. Works with ballet dancers and soloists of the Mariinsky and Mikhailovsky Theaters. Her artworks are kept in private collections in Russia, the USA, the UK, and Israel.
Luca Curci – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
Tonya Ekimova – My path into photography developed gradually. This path begins in childhood – with great curiosity I used to take pictures of nature, people, and events around me with a camera. I got my higher education in the area of international relations, which is far away from photography. My study covered countries in Western Europe. After graduation, I spent some time trying to find myself, which includes working in tourism, restaurant business, and even as a reporter on television. At some point, I found myself actively observing the work of cameramen, and then I realized that working behind the scenes is more interesting to me. And my love of photography met its second wind. Observation, analysis, and a new look at already familiar objects and phenomena – working with a camera have so many aspects and it became an important part of my life and myself.
LC – How did you get to photography? Do you remember why you took your first professional photo?
TE – In 2013, my hobby turned into a profession when I found a vacancy for a child photographer in a company engaged in making portraits and group pictures of children in kindergartens. I completed additional training and then joined that company as a photographer. I’d describe that job more as a job on the assembly line, rather than creative work, but I consider it as sort of a school which, besides other things, gave me some good basic ideas on how to work with light. After that, I decided to work for myself and started making wedding and family photography. But that also did not fulfill my desire for creativeness and self-expression, so in the year 2019 I step up to the genre of ballet photography. I felt an instant crush on this genre when I saw the works of one of the masters of ballet photography Darian Volkova, and I immediately became eager to try myself in this area of art. I’d guess that that feeling has its deep basis: during my school years, I studied ballet for 10 years. I think that my understanding of body plasticity and sense of lines and dynamics was formed right then.
LC – When you take photos, are you usually inspired by the situation or do you find inspiration in yourself?
TE – My photos are coincidental and well-thought-out. A forward-looking setting is required for my artworks. Usually, it starts with an idea, then I’m looking for artists I’d like to work with, I choose clothes, studio, light, color, think of positions, and the play-acting. But there is always a place for experiment and for a matter of chance. No matter how well I’m prepared for a photography session, reality makes its own adjustments. For instance, if I have to work with fabrics, then photos become almost unpredictable which I find inspiring. So I would say it’s a result of phenomena of the moment meeting inner search for the inspiration.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
TE – I am inspired by art. I am very impressed by paintings of the Italian Renaissance, French Impressionism, and Russian Avant-Garde. The stylistics, coloristic, and graphics of these art directions inspire me to create my own, often metaphysical images expressed through the aesthetics of ballet lines and the elegance of dancers. I also draw my inspiration from nature and architecture, especially where geometric patterns vividly manifest themselves. I like to experiment with color, with exposure. Lines and color are the main narrators in my photography, they help to express my inner state, and my ideas.
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the exhibition’s theme?
TE – My work «Harmony of Soul» presented at the exhibition is a kind of bridge connecting the human spirit and the human body. This is a kind of inner core that does not let you fall, despite the rapidly changing world. This inner core provides support and gives faith, hope, and love for life.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID Group can represent an opportunity for artists?
TE – In my opinion, the ITSLIQUID Group is a good help in the development of the artist. I feel thankful for being given the opportunity to present my work and to meet the works of many talented artists in various fields of art. Such events enrich with new knowledge, ideas, and new contacts. It’s inspiring.