Chapaykina and Smyr
Ksenia Smyr and Yevgeny Chapaykin (previously the photo association SOL) met in 2014 at the International School of Photography ISSP (Latvia). Evgeniya graduated from the School of Photography and Multimedia. Rodchenko (Moscow), Ksenia – Speos School of Photography (Paris). The sphere of interests of the artists includes rethinking historical events, establishing links between events of the past and the present, working with local cultural contexts, as well as researching the medium of photography itself in the genre of still life. They teach at the school docdocdoc (St. Petersburg), at the School of Photography and Multimedia. Rodchenko (Moscow).
- 2021 – “Exhibition of Author’s Photography”. ArtSpace Gallery. Kaliningrad, Russia.
- 2020 – “A Journey from a Sandwich to Still Life. A New Normal”. Festival of Contemporary Photography “Photon”. Gallery “Rosenaum”. Kaliningrad, Russia.
- 2018 – Festival “Les nuits de Pierrevert”. France.
- 2017 – Kansk International Architectural Festival. Russia.
- 2017 – “Dialogue”. Artkiosk. Hamburg, Germany.
- 2017 – “Boundaries of Feelings”. Squat on Milyutinsky. Moscow, Russia.
- 2016 – “Cosmos.love”. Artplay. Moscow, Russia.
All author's works
The creative duo of Evgenia Chapaikina and Kseniya Smyr grew out of commercial collaboration; today, their collective portfolio includes several projects united by an interest in the subject world, and in the symbolic and aesthetic value of still life. Still life photography is one of the most traditional and chamber genres of art. Some of the earliest photographs were also executed in the still life genre. In the “Still life” series, Chapaikina and Smyr address its long tradition. The photographers declare their rejection of the semantic burden of traditional European still life: studio still lifes, with ideally white backgrounds and perfectly exposed light, are, by definition, “a formal study of materials, light, technical and compositional solutions.”
The strategy of environmentally and socially responsible behavior presupposes a conscious approach to consumption, a careful attitude and search for the most appropriate ways to dispose of things that have lost their functionality for one reason or another. While the easiest solution is to throw away an object that has become a burden, Evgenia Chapaikina and Ksyusha Smyr suggest playfully rethinking the burden of personal responsibility. The works in “The Dump” series are executed in their characteristic still life genre, and the compositions are carefully made up of objects that have become unnecessary to their owners. The dump turns into a space of creative experimentation, a kind of creative purgatory, where objects play out bizarre scenes with one another, waiting for an opportunity to serve someone else. This series is an invitation to creatively rethink the functionality of the object and responsibly approach the question of conscious consumption.
Elysium is an ancient Greek analogue of Heaven, an afterlife where eternal springs reign, and souls spend eternity in a carefree joy. For the photographic duo of Evgenia Chapaikina and Ksyusha Smyr, this territory of fantastic, unreally blissful world turns out to be Abkhazia. However, despite the fact that “Elysium” is fully shot in this country, the artists prefer not to focus on its geographical and political context. In this conventional space, objects enter into strange, illogical connections with one another, and the landscape is invaded either by the creative will of the authors or by incidental events. The artists intentionally leave free rein to the unspoken, leaving viewers to judge the meaning and pragmatics of certain compositional structures on their own.
Metaphor is one of the most important mechanisms of medical knowledge. In diagnosis or in popular descriptions of the principles of the body’s functioning, metaphors are constantly used, directly linking our imagination and well-being, to the point where an attempt to define one’s own condition in the most precise and imaginative ways can be a significant step on the road to healing. The title of the series “The Bodyland” by Ksyusha Smyr and Evgenia Chapaikina, suggests an attempt to define corporeal states through spatial and visual metaphors. As defined by the authors, it is “a collection of visual metaphorical discoveries of different parts of the body and other delicate aspects associated with it.” The series, executed in a delicate lilac palette, figuratively speaks of sensory and bodily sensations, both equally abstract and revelatory.
Creative duo of Evgenia Chapaikina and Ksyusha Smyr work in the still life genre, a language that is – in the opinion of photographers – the most adequate means for conversation on difficult ethical and psychological topics. The artists often use flowers in their studio works: in the “Narcissus” series, they act as symbols of fragile human personality. “Narcissus” is a project that allegorically tells us about the severity of emotional violence, problems of interpersonal communication and the incompatibilities of different types of people. This extremely detached form of statement allows us to keep delicacy in the conversation on difficult topics. The speculative nature of the image seeks to avoid accusations of parasitism on sensationalism, and its melancholy prevents all unnecessary dramatizations.