Ilina Vicktoria

An increasing number of image makers claim to have been disproportionately influenced by Andrei Tarkovsky; few benefit from comparison. (Only two come to mind: Bela Tarr and to a greatly diminished and inconsistent effect Gus Van Sant.)

I am not sure Ilina Vicktoria espouses Tarkovskian influences but considering this famous still of Anatoliy Solonitzyn as Pisatel in Stalker crowned with twisted tree branches bears more than a passing resemblance to the top image, I’d say the odds are good she does.

Her angle of view and scale are different. Also, in her photo the branches serve less of a crown than a mobile artfully counter weighted with Siberian dogwood berries. (Also what is with that distorted blob: is it a light leak? How is it’s position so freakishly perfect to balance out the baseboard/floor and curtains at the lower right edge of the frame? It’s slightly unnerving given the clear Stalker reference—a film notable for being shot twice due to the lab ruining the original footage.)

Something deeper links Vicktoria to the famed Russian auteur, something more than similar content and shared nationality, something more like an attitude toward the image. An attitude built upon a belief of what images are meant to do.

Tarkovsky tries to say something about this attitude but his explanations skew all-to-readily toward justification and abstraction. But it wasn’t until searching for the aforementioned still of Solonitzyn for this post that I stumbled upon this awesome article on Stalker. In it, Brecht Andersch describes the effect Tarkovsky’s films achieve as follows:

The members of Tarkovsky’s audience, if only subconsciously, are brought to awareness of their own hidden depths, of the calling of the soul, of the imperative quest for the sacred. To see his films is to experience the process the Russian filmmaker described as “scales falling from the eyes”.

And that is how you can spot the real Tarkovskians even from low orbit: they are less interested in creating beauty as revealing it was there all along. (Not at all unlike Michelangelo trying to free the form which existed within the stone with his Unfinished Slaves—I can’t help but think Tarkovsky had these monumental sculptures just as much in mind as he did Acts 9:18.)

The question I am left with is: how the transcendence of discovering what is in plain sight instead of manufacturing spectacle can be applied to the visual depictions of sexuality (which is itself a pathway to transcendent experience.)

(Kudos to youarecordiallyinvitedtopissoff for once again bringing another mindblowing photographer to my attention that I never would have otherwise found.)

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