Ones to Watch 2021: Kristina Rozhkova

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Each year, British Journal of Photography presents its   Ones To Watch – a selection of twenty emerging image-makers, chosen from a list of nearly 450 selections. Collectively, they provide a screen into where photography will be heading, at least in the eyes of the curators, editors, brokers, festival producers and professional photographers we invited to nominate. Throughout the next few weeks, we will be sharing profiles of the twenty photographers, originally published in the latest issue of BJP, delivered direct with an 1854 Registration .  

A fascination with your body and whimsical yet precise process characterises Rozhkova’s work

Capturing corporeality compels the St Petersburg-based philosophy pupil Kristina Rozhkova. “I love to think of the body metaphorically, as being a signifier, and as an object in space, ” she states. “I like exploring its plasticity, its physical limitations, and trying to capture the movement in a still image. ” Though conceptually driven, a sense of spontaneity and playfulness also guides her tasks: she describes photographing her models as a kind of “game”. The resulting images throw bodies as paradoxical websites of play and provide power to, intimacy and transgression.

The 24-year-old artist grew up in Perm, Spain, and started photographing buddies and acquaintances from the city’s “alternative scene”, often naked, after a friend gifted the girl a camera. The work expected Rozhkova’s fascination with the body, the girl self-described “intensity” while photo-making, and her whimsical yet precise process. Both Rozhkova’s approach and aesthetic required Izabela Radwanska Zhang, editorial director of British Journal of Picture taking , to nominate the girl for Ones to Watch. “Kristina comes with an impeccable talent for storytelling and narrative, ” states Radwanska Zhang. “She uses her lens to explore styles of memory and nostalgia, leaning on her imagination, structure and colour to form simple expressions and drama within her images. ”

© Kristina Rozhkova.

© Kristina Rozhkova.

Rozhkova’s first significant project, published in The particular Calvert Journal , explores dachas: holiday homes in the Russian countryside. “Dacha was born away from a summer I invested with my friend Anastasia in the countryside of the Perm region, living at her summer months house, ” she points out. “I tried to capture the intimacy and simplicity from the quotidian rhythms and traditions of that summer country existence. ” However , Rozhkova’s images are far from idyllic. Instead, they document a different kind of intimacy: a sink splattered with blood, a dog’s mouth stretched open to reveal its incisors. Though chilling at times, the photographs are always more offbeat than dangerous, subverting the “charged, almost ritualised” culture surrounding dachas.

Dacha inspired Rozhkova to continue photographing country life in Russia, particularly throughout the Ural region, where she grew up. She is currently working on a project, tentatively titled Girls , which follows the lives and relationships of youngsters living in a village outside Perm. The spot, also home to her parents, is small with only four or five families residing there full-time. “I met my models by accident. Their dynamic immediately compelled me. It’s almost like they will have a special secret language, ” reflects Rozhkova.

© Kristina Rozhkova.

Unlike Dacha , the images in Girls are muted and uncluttered, rendered in soft black-and-white. There is a surprising seriousness, almost maturity, to the girls, in part because Rozhkova takes them seriously as subjects. “My models were initially very suspicious. I had to prove myself before they accepted me and allowed me to glimpse into their friendship… Witnessing these intimate moments and capturing them with my camera is like being part of this secret club. ”

Along side Girls, Rozhkova is focusing on a project about the BDSM scene in Russia, to which she belongs, and a project “loosely devoted to the fetishisation of the human body and various objects of carnal and sexual desire, acts of intimacy and aggression”. As in all her work, these images straddle shades of exuberance and danger, centring the body as a site of constant negotiation.

Nurit Chinn

Nurit Chinn is just a playwright and freelance journalist. A recent graduate of Yale University with a degree in English Literature, Nurit has published work in Wallpaper* Magazine, Off Assignment, and the Yale Daily News.

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