The work of photographer Olya Oleinic is hard to define. It’s multifaceted in its output, both in terms of its themes and the techniques Olya uses, and it somehow straddles very traditional fashion photography and fine art work, even incorporating 3D renders every now and then. Despite the variety of inputs, there’s a consistent visual language present in Olya’s portfolio, a product she explains of her understanding of the need for a “balance between experimentation and visual consistency,” which she achieves through careful self-curation.
We last wrote about Olya’s work in 2017 and in the resulting time, her practice has matured and refined. Where previously the 3D elements of her portfolio were dominant, today they creep in subtly, becoming part of the composition. And where they don’t feature at all, her work feels rooted in fashion photography, making the inclusion of anything 3D all the more surprising. More than ever, it feels like a unique portfolio, unlike the work of anyone else. On her distinctive look, she explains: “I think visual language is something that gets formed through both conscious and unconscious choices – often becoming a combination of research and the inevitable impact of the immediate environment.”
For Olya, this means much of her work is concerned with replicating observations of the every day. “A lot of my practice at the moment is based upon reconstructing the daily observations – light reflected off the glass building surface, cultural dress codes across countries and communities, but especially people’s interactions, manners and unaware behaviour,” she tells It’s Nice That. “Observing the immediate environment is a subconscious study I often catch myself lost in. It’s exciting to be able to create links between these observations; make work that connects elements which otherwise would not co-exist in the context of real life.” In turn, Olya’s portfolio plays “with the definition of truth within the photographic culture.”
A recent personal project of Olya’s is Scripted acts of togetherness. Olya explains: “It was set in a space of childhood and womanhood, fabricated from scratch in my Amsterdam studio together with my friend and collaborator Anna Mala. It was also a social experiment I tried to do with a group of women, most of whom didn’t know each other initially. I approached the shoot as a film set and asked them to perform certain scripted scenarios, to see how the ideas of performing certain rituals would make them interact.”
Currently based between London and Amsterdam, last month Olya’s work was included in Red Hook Labs’ yearly exhibition Labs News Artists. The exhibition displays work by 25 emerging, international photographers, unrepresented by a gallery or an agency, and selected from Red Hook Labs’ open call by a jury of industry leaders. Included alongside photographers like Kyle Weeks and Dustin Thierry, the first of whom she recently collaborated with on a campaign for Wrangler, it’s an exciting time to be following the photographer’s rise.
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