Varvara Mikushkina (b. Russia, 1989) is an artist that lives and works in New York City. Her work revolves around the romanticization of light and the decontextualization of experiencing illuminated moments. These moments are seen in mysterious settings or makeshift studios that construct an ancillary aesthetic around light. She received her BFA in Fine Art Photography from Syracuse University in 2011 and is currently pursuing her MFA in Photography at Parsons The New School for Design. Mikushkina has exhibited at institutions such as the Hermitage Museum of Art, Russia; Everson Museum of Art, NY; Aperture Foundation, NY and Center for Photography at Woodstock, NY.
What are some of the ideas and themes motivating your thesis?
VM: I’m interested in assumptions about how photography should act, about the need for it be greater than itself; almost also the need for it to not be photography. So there’s this kind of conversation and I created a workflow around the simple foundation of the idea of light as a stage. I created this restriction of using light as a stage and within that, I’m interested in how the re-sequencing and the re-editing of images makes new narratives.
I’m very informed by Tillman’s work, Rinko Kawauchi’s work and Torbjørn Rødland. I like this ambiguity in images. I think you could make a family of images around any kind of theme and I’m interested in how you could re-sequence and re-edit and create new meaning. So in this specific thesis, I was always sort of battling the idea of when do I say this has ended. When does this set of images stop and where no others can work with them . And I think I’ve never answered that question, but I’m interested in the fact of why you cannot answer that.
The work is not really investigative. It’s not set out to be critical of something. It’s very intuitive. It’s very romantic. Like it’s almost passive, but I think there’s like a conversation in the idea of “what are you bearing witness to? What am I bearing witness to?” It’s also a lot of things I’m still picking apart too, but the project is called Lux and Lumen.
TJ: Yeah. There’s definitely a lot of light
VM: It’s a lot of light, but it’s also a lot of objects. Kitsch objects or cheap objects that talk about brilliance, like “diamond brilliance”, that as a main source of reflecting light.
By Terricka Johnson