Sue Polschikova is a Russian photographer living in Portugal. In 2011, she moved to the Middle East, and since 2017 she has been based in Lisbon. Currently, she is an online student at the Academy of Documentary Photography and Art Fotografika.
Her series Sprouts will be presented during Riga Photomonth 2021. In this work she has tried to create a new ‘body mask’, connecting the human body with the objects of the surrounding natural and animal world. “I wanted to explore, through this connection, their complementarity and mutual influence. To ask myself a question – where is the borderline between harmony in interaction and the pathological influence of one on the other? What grows from what? Who determines whom?”
Do you like sprouts?
Yes, let me try to expand on that. For a long time, I’ve spent my time living in the Middle East. The climate there was extremely hot, and there was little variation of plants present. I think in my time living there, the absence of the ‘nature’ aspect has impacted me. Here in Portugal, however, I’ve come across the ocean, mountains, the forest and the hills, and a very pleasant climate throughout all seasons of the year. This is why I’ve felt a need to take part in this project. Something very strange happens when we are out in nature. We cease to become judgemental, and become ‘observers’ instead. Our critical views soften as we become exposed to the facets of the world.
Yet we are not bothered by growths on a stately oak or the unsightly belly of an old whale. We don’t ponder and think about how we can make it better, but rather we become mesmerized by its sheer unique self-sufficiency. That’s why I haven’t edited photos. The shots were made quickly and on my balcony, in broad daylight.
How has COVID-19 affected your artistic practice?
I think that COVID has touched almost everyone on the planet. Including my family, of course. But I don’t want to blame all the failures on this virus. This is not the first nor the last time something like this has happened to humanity.
Many call these times and moments as very dark times. Time isn’t the easiest concept, yet it allows the artist to concentrate and truly be himself/herself, as all of his/her temptations fly away. On top of that, the lockdown has allowed me to rethink many ideas and take a deep look into myself, self-educate and take action.
What is the socio-political climate in Portugal now?
Firstly, I want to say that I’ve come to love this sunny country and its people. The financial crisis has impacted this country greatly. I do not usually judge government-issued measures. Although, it would take very strong measures and steps to put this country back on track with its currently weak economy. Yes, there have been a series of protests and dissatisfaction within society, but on average, the people are very self-aware and did follow through with all the issued quarantine measures.
How do you imagine the world after COVID?
I think our future has been well described by great authors many years ago, such as Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Orwell, etc. Even if it all ends well – our current times and actions would leave a bitter aftertaste on the world.
What project are you working on at the moment?
This project was published in a few magazines and was nominated and won several contests. Now, I want to keep filming and publish a book. On top of that, I am currently filming a series of portraits, although it’s too early to talk about the final result.