A Disturbing Strangeness of Being: On Kristina Podobed's Horror Dream Photographs
The Collector's Guide to Blockchain Photography
“disturbing strangeness of being” is the short and cryptic description that Kristina Podobed offers about her recently dropped series crashed heaven. A single line of brief text is all the artist allows us to cling to for a gravity of understanding as we tour through the work. Throughout the twelve images of crashed heaven the artist employs expressionist-like digital manipulations atop images from her archive.
Podobed’s handling of her images rips the seams of her pictures, turns them inside out, and flips them into mirrors of frictitious internal worlds that reflect much more of the world than what our eyes can see. Her work doesn’t do what photography is designed to do, but ventures into the questions of what more the medium is capable of. The results seem twisted at first glance, nightmarish and disturbed, as if the artist twists into an alternate reality that resembles some type of pixel-manic cybergoth horror dream.
While crashed heaven itself makes no acknowledgement to current events, and appears to reflect burdens of personal experience, the timing of the Kiev-based photographer’s drop makes it hard to imagine the work as existing outside the context of the violence and stressors of war in Ukraine. Podobed’s work is soaked in anxieties, channeled through the distorted realities reflected in her frames. As the title of the series suggests, the promise of paradise, for the artist and likely for most of us as well, is stuff of myth rather than substance. What emerge from the rubble of this recognition, sometimes, are pictures that serve as evidence of their own unyielding search for higher power.
Q&A with Kristina Podobed
PhotoVerso: To start, can you talk a bit about your background as a photographer?
Kristina Podobed: I have been doing photography for over 10 years. I didn't study anywhere. I'm self-taught, and I think I can say I grew up as a person and as a photographer proportionally. Everything I know I learned by myself through trial-and-error and by exchanging knowledge with my photographer friends.
Now I live and make photographs. For me the two are synonymous, one is impossible without the other. For myself, I decided my photography is a kind of poetry, where visible images alternate instead of words.
PV: What have been your biggest milestones so far in your career as an artist?
KP: For me it's every new image that I make. I used to think that success is determined by the number of exhibitions you have and how much money you earn, but now it is more important for me to see my own growth as an artist and enjoy my results. Shooting is like learning. maybe learning seems too big word, but I do feel photography teaches me things.
PV: Can you talk about what brought you into the world of NFTs?
KP: In my case, it’s not what but who. My sister insisted for a long time that I need to join the ranks of the NFT world. And now, after half a year of persuasion, I gave up and I'm here.
PV: Can you provide a bit more insight about crashed heaven?
KP: This collection displays disturbing strangeness of being. It started 4 years ago, when my son was born and I had to take a big pause in photography. This period in my life allowed me to stop and think about everything, rethink my work, look at it from a different angle, and because I didn’t have the opportunity to shoot a lot, I started to work with my archive. I experimented with processing, layers, colors. I tried to find a new language for myself that reflected my feelings most accurately in order to communicate with the world.
PV: What/who are some of the inspirations and influences that fuel your work?
KP: Honestly, I do not know. It's always so unexpected, it could be anything. Most of all, I don’t think about what to shoot. I just go and shoot. My main tools are my camera, lots of film, and simply giving myself away completely to intuition. When I look through the lens, I see paradise.
PV: What do you hope audiences take away from spending time with your work?
KP: I don't hope anymore. I don't want to get in the way if, looking at my work, the viewer feels something, anything. Even if the feeling is something incomprehensiblly or bad or good, I will be glad.
PV: What are you working on now? And do you have new drops or projects on the horizon?
KP: I always work as usual, not on anything specific. I just recently dropped a Crashed Heaven, so probably nothing new in the near future, but later... yes I’ll be minting more work.
Kristina Podobed was born in Odessa, Ukraine in 1994. She started her photographic journey in 2011, mainly documenting herself and her female friends.
In 2015 and 2016 Kristina studied at International Summer School of Photography in Latvia (Jim Goldberg and Anouk Kruithof workshops). Since 2016 she has participated in several exhibitions, including The Ladies Network Exhibition (TinyTaylor Gallery, Sydney, Australia), UKRAINE SRTON (Gängeviertel, Hamburg), Live Is Ours (Gallery, in collaboration with Nhude magazine, Prague, Czech Republic), and Your Picture - Our Future (JW_Anderson, London). She works individually and as a part of creative collective Join The Cool. Kristina currently lives and works in Kyiv, Ukraine.
If your stance on bodies, nakedness and sexuality in photography is free-spirited enough, Kristina’s Podobed photography are there to catch you off-guard, to push you to the boundaries where intimacy and vulgarity suddenly merge to create a rough and honest image.
It is the photographers walking that fine line who end up challenging society’s moral status quo – and it’s those photographers that we need the most today.