Kristina Rozhkova

My name is Kristina Rozhkova, I'm 25, and I am from Perm, Russia. I have started doing photography rather recently, about 2 years ago, at a school in St. Petersburg, Russia, where I have lived since finishing my Master's Degree in philosophy.

My journey towards photography was roundabout and happened in several stages. Initially, while I was still living in Perm, I received a camera as a gift from a friend, who suggested that I begin by taking shots of nude models.
I put out a call among my friends and acquaintances on social media, and had several people come in for shoots with me. Mostly these people belonged to the alternative scene. I would describe this initial period as extremely intense: I would do one or two shoots a day trying different angles going through hundreds of shots.

After moving to St. Petersburg, I found out about the Fotografika Photo Academy and submitted my portfolio on a whim. Looking back, I can say that this collection of shots was rather risqué, of course, I had several conventional photos and portraits, but there were also quite many photos of the human form and genitals.
It happened that my application was successful, and I even won a full scholarship to attend Fotografika! Since then, my vision has shifted quite a bit from that initial portfolio shoot, I can now say that I have become more interested in conceptual photography generally. However, I still retain the same intensity and even aggressive way in my shootings. I think that has become a definitive part of my style.
I was giving myself totally to every shooting, it was insanely intense. It seemed to me that I was biting into the human body and I wanted to get the best from every shoot!
"Dacha" (in Russia it's a house in the village used mostly during summer) was my first serious project, and its main themes are intimacy, closeness, and friendship. Dacha was born out of a summer I spent with my friend Anastasia in the countryside of the Perm region, living at her summer house, and the quotidian rhythms and rituals of that summer country life, which I tried to capture in its intimacy and simplicity.

When it comes to particular inspirations for "Dacha", I think that it is very important to understand that for many Russian young people the summer house is already a place that is very culturally charged, almost ritualized. I refer here to things like living in the countryside during the summer vacation, working in the garden with grandparents, ambling aimlessly from sunup to sundown with "dacha friends" – kids you only see once a year, and going into the brambles to pick raspberries. Many young people in Russia have this formative experience, and it is almost a rite of passage.

I have tried to achieve several things in this project: explore the paradox of sifting through an old album of my own [cultural] memory, but simultaneously coming to terms with the fact hat I have no such memories. While I had certain associations, and my idea of country life was not a metaphorical tabula rasa, coming face to face with the realities of country life made my own preconceptions seem as though they were inversions, or reflections, as they might appear on an undeveloped negative.
When I first Anastasia at her summer house in 2019 we went to the bathhouse and explored the attic of her house, as we rifled through the clothes chest, climbed trees and did other similar activities, I understood that I had also now had this formative experience of Russian youth, but because I had had it as an adult, it was nonetheless somehow distinct and different. I set out to capture this feeling in the images that now make up this project. After I visited other dachas in the Perm countryside, and in the vicinity of St. Petersburg.

This project is an attempt to get intimately close to the metaphorical Other, to explore the limits of platonic friendship, to explore the connections between the Corporeal and the Natural, and ultimately to capture the essence of my generation.
In the euphoria of dacha life, I was able to understand myself in a new way, to be in peace and in harmony with myself, at least for a while..
My project is an attempt to capture the paradox of nostalgia for something which I have never felt or had, until now.
Series "Dacha" has driven me to explore the themes of country life in Russia, and especially in my own native Urals region, more closely. The Anastasia village is very small, there are only about 4 or 5 families that live there fulltime. But the region itself is vibrant: there are remnants of old soviet-era tourist retreats all around. Some of these are restored and functioning, others are derelict. It is a place of immense contrast.

For me, having the whole dacha experience as an adult demonstrated how dynamic the space and very phenomenon of the dacha could be. I think this dynamism, and my attempts to depict it visually, is what defines "Dacha" as a project. There is no "story" here. In fact, most of the shots in dacha were unplanned initially. I did not scout locations, I did not hunt around for props, I simply went for a walk with my friends, or we got together and did makeovers, and I tried to capture the moment as it happened.
When I see an inspiring image or angle, I am willing to keep shooting it for dozens, sometimes even hundreds of takes, until I capture it exactly how I want. There might be an element of violence here, but to me it is another manifestation of the same artistic intensity that I alluded to before!
And my models do not seem to mind too much. My approach is to turn the whole process into a game between me and my models, every image we create together, almost as if through play.
Author Anna Laza
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