Many of us will remember the weird things we used to do as kids. You know, like putting together (questionable) dance routines with your pals and showing your parents. Yanina Voronova, a photographer from Belarus and recently based in Minsk, looks back to her own childhood and recalls something similar; she’d gather her friends and dress them up in “crazy makeup” for pictures, using her old Soviet Smena to snap them. This was aged 13-14, an era that she says is where “subcultures reigned” – “I learned a lot of self-expression from that funny emo experience.”
Years down the line and Yanina continued to work on her photography practice, all the while experiencing a two-year detour studying Cross-cultural Communication and PR. Yet this only emphasised her interests in the medium. “Now I see that, no matter what shit happens in my life, photography and fashion have always been my fulcrum; the most stable system that’s supported me and given me strength to move on,” she tells It’s Nice That.
What defines Yanina’s recent photography style is a merging of trippy, psychedelic tones with more typical fashion postures and poses. In her work, colours unexpectedly seep into each other, creating unimaginable palettes that couldn’t have been achieved without a skilful eye for experimentation. Working mostly with her imagination and welcoming the unpredictable, Yanina avoids using Pinterest and turns to her memory as her key muse. She also picks up ideas from daily life around her, be it a phrase, the news, a word, fashion trends, observations, films, animals, fairytales or abstract thoughts – but most of all, it’s Japanese tales, anime and anything from the fantasy genre. “I just pick images from my head and line them up; it’s like picking the most lovely beads from the box of different colours and putting them on a string.”
However, after the devastating news of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Yanina’s usual day-to-day has been put on hold. Before the war, Yanina worked as an art curator in a school and helped students with their online studies. “The company faced a financial crisis as it works mostly in the Russian region and I lost my curator job,” she says, provoking her to reevaluate her life and goals. “I’m taking a small break, facing an existential crisis again and the meaning of my works and activities.” Photography, in Yanina’s eyes – and likely for many others – serves as a remedial antidote to the world around her.
From fantasy stories about “representatives” from other planets, to a project dedicated to all the awkward moments from her life, Yanina uses her practice to tell stories. It’s like a form of escapism for her, a place where she can build whatever world imaginable and sprinkle it in her instantly recognisable aesthetic. So what’s next for this budding artist? “I will take a deep breath of life and start from scratch, as I plan on moving to another country with a different culture and people,” she explains. “I feel that I will change my style again.”
Yanina Voronova: The Poem About the Colour and the Girl (Copyright © Yanina Voronova, 2022)
About the Author
Ayla is currently covering Jenny as It’s Nice That’s online editor. She has spent nearly a decade as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.