Whoever calls multitasking impossible has never met Nataliia Kuznietsova. This Ukraine-born Londoner is a performance and installation artist, painter, writer, videographer—need we say more? She puts sincere effort and thought into every detail of her complex multimedia projects, and often reflects on everyone but herself. We’re so pleased to have artists like Nataliia in the Zealous community, where multidisciplinary creators and their craft are free to bloom and thrive.
LAB: In 10 words or less, describe your mission as an artist.
NK: To critique systems that paralyze the human body, mind, and spirit.
LAB: You are a videographer, performance artist, painter, sculptor, and photographer (is there anything you don’t do?) — what draws you to all these mediums? Do you find that one or two of them get more attention than the others?
NK: Ha ha! I could narrow it down and say I’m a poet – a visual poet – because that’s the way I produce work. I write in Russian and I show in English. The feeling comes as a verse and tries to find the best route of manifesting itself. Sometimes it is a limerick followed by a small photograph. Other times it is a poem that becomes a multi-layered installation. The dialectic between word and image is acutely evident outside of one’s mother tongue. For me, it is only natural to freely alternate between these “borders” between mediums. I have degrees in design and fine arts and am doing theatrical arts at the moment. I think what gets the most attention is not the medium itself but the process of enchanting people and charging them with energy. It’s all about personality, in the end, which any medium can convey.
LAB: Which comes first when creating: the idea, or the medium? (e.g. Do you choose a medium and then a project that suits it, or do you find a medium to suit the idea / concept for the body of work you’re creating?)
NK: It can work multiple ways, but I’d say simultaneously; one doesn’t control the other. First comes the feeling—my mind and sensual system perceive their relationship to other things and trace the patterns they create. So the fragment of an idea/medium occurs at once, and then develops and mutates further, re-arranging itself in a certain way; that is why I say “visual poetry”, because there are many concepts, metaphors and references in the same body of work. A work has its form, rhythm, and independent parts that break down into ‘lines’ (separate objects that are part of a bigger whole). What matters, in the end, is the coexistence of information and references with the chosen medium and its context within or outside the political grid. This form of a verse protects me from being a hostage of a concept, narrative or medium.
LAB: Who do you admire most? How do they inspire you?
NK: I am philanthropic and admire people from different spheres. I feel temporarily liberated when I meet charity workers, bioengineers and shamanic practitioners—but I tend to find inspiration in all sort of things. I am sometimes inspired by people whose actions and values don’t deserve respect because they provoke my sense of justice.
LAB: Do you ever feel limited in your craft? How do? How do you overcome it?
NK: No, I definitely don’t feel limited. The etymology of the word itself [“craft”] is variable and mystical, and I think that being an artist is not so different from practising magic. It is all about energies. All you need is outer and inner energies and the will to experiment. If I am stuck with a question about a sculptural piece, I don’t go searching for an answer to it within the same disciplinary habitat. I don’t go through Sculpture theory. Instead I’ll read something on Photography or Acting. It is like reading about I Ching to better understand Christianity or Talmud to understand Buddhism—it gives you a better perspective and allows you to maintain a certain element of freedom.
Also, as a performer and videographer, I trust in improvisation more than anything else. If I realise that I am intoxicated with my personal view of things, I collaborate with others, create little tasks for them, observe them in action and then the answer appears. Other people carry infinite possibilities. Falling in love is resourceful as well, good for letting go of self-awareness and improving observational skills.
LAB: Of everything you’ve made so far, do you have a favourite body of work (or least favourite)? Which is it? Why?
NK: My favourite piece is in process, and all my favourite things are future-oriented. “Nomadic Hope-Vaccinator” is an interesting work in terms of its various emotional triggers. It points out the diverse nature of the post-human ontology and displays a mixture of spiritual playfulness and anxiety. It has several circles of meanings: political, religious and personal. It is not insipid, but sensual, I hope.
LAB: What advice would you give your future self?
NK: If I manage to sustain this chronic dissatisfaction with what I do and where I am, I should not have any problems.
LAB: What do you hope to accomplish or create in 2017? How will you pursue that goal?
NK: In 2017, I will collaborate with Charity Houses and work to give homeless people more visibility. At the moment, I’m working on a performance-based participatory work that’s based on the element of risk. I am excited to see how it works out! If there are people in your database that are engaged in charity or interested in gift politics, it would be great to meet them.