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Nika Kupyrova

The winner of the Disaronno Photo Award at the ITS#TEN competition talks about her compositions based around making ordinary objects extraordinary

It may be a surprise to some but Nika Kupyrova, the winner of the Disaronno Photo Award at the ITS#TEN competition, has actually got a degree in painting from Edinburgh College of Art. Kupyrova mainly started using photography to document her installations, but, as time passed, she realised photography had become a medium in its own right, with its specific qualities and approaches to its subject matter. In the last few years Kupyrova, who describes herself as “an artist working with photography”, focused on installation, sculpture and photography.

The projects she presented at the ITS#TEN competition and that won her the Disaronno Award moved from ordinary found materials and objects that she assembled into compositions. In one of her series entitled “Sunset Yellow” Kupyrova gradually exchanged all the parts of the objects she was photographing, completely transforming them and charging them with different meanings, at times serious, at others playful.

Dazed Digital: When did you decide to take part in the ITS# competition?
Nika Kupyrova:
I came across the ITS# website a couple of years ago and made a mental note to check it from time to time to see if the Photography competition was taking place again. When this year I saw the ITS# pink heart logo flashing at me on some website, I thought it was a reminder to me and that’s how it all started.

DD: How did you feel when you saw your work exhibited alongside all the other finalists’?
Nika Kupyrova:
My focus is in fine art rather than commercial photography, so I’m quite used to seeing my work in such an environment, but I was really excited to see all the work of the Photography finalists together on those long black walls.

DD: What inspired the images that won you the Disaronno Award?
Nika Kupyrova:
I mainly work with found objects: they are all recognisable and have an emotional charge of their own, this is why I like using them as the building blocks of my narrative. The two photographic projects I exhibited at ITS#TEN both deal with re-defining still-life and constructing temporary compositions which are taken apart at the end of the photoshoot.

The project “Sunset Yellow” is a result of a series of experiments with the objects that have collected on my desk over the year, searching for unexpected resemblances and manipulating them just enough for the new story to emerge. For the second photography series, “Mouse Milk”, I was interested in the boundary between animate and inanimate - what does it take for us to see the sculpture as a ‘creature’ rather than an ‘object’?

DD: Do you have a favourite photographer/artist who inspires you in your work?
Nika Kupyrova:
I never had an all-time favourite, but, since I see a lot of art on a daily basis, there is plenty of interesting work coming my way. The ITS#TEN exhibition introduced me for example to some extraordinary pieces. I had a soft spot especially for the Accessories and Fashion collections since as a sculptor I am drawn towards unconventional use of materials and re-working the usual, everyday items into bold new compositions.

Designer Oliver Ruuger took accessories far beyond their usual function for example and I enjoyed his re-working of the traditional techniques into the realm of the absurd, but I also enjoyed Kristian Guerra‘s post-apocalyptic puffer jackets.

DD: Will you be doing any exhibitions in the next few months?
Nika Kupyrova:
There are quite a few exhibitions planned for this year. I’m especially looking forward to go to Pittsburgh this October, where I will be creating a site-specific installation at the Mattress Factory Art Museum. It will be my first time in the USA and I’ll finally get the opportunity to produce work on a different scale.