conversations – Interview by Margaret Murphy – 03.05.2023
OLGA FEDOROVA: CONTEMPORARY SURREALISM
NOSTALGIA AND AI
Olga Fedorova's digital photographs of the human species in absurd situations capture moments in time. The Russian artist uses three-dimensional computer rendering software to create characters and then sets them in surreal-looking settings. Even though the events and actions are familiar to us, her creatures remain distant and otherworldly, conveying a certain feeling of nostalgia and mysticism.
In conversation with Margaret Murphy, Head of Community, Fedorova discusses her artistic practice and her journey to working with AI, the absence of men in her work, and the importance of humor in her practice.
Margaret Murphy: When did you know you were an artist?
Olga Fedorova: Pretty young, I figured out I thought more about the creative process than most people around me, and I wanted to meet similar people who love art.
MM: How do you feel as an artist working with software and new technologies? Is it a challenge to stay up-to-date with often-hyped new technologies?
OF: I'm always keen on challenging myself. By approaching new technologies with a critical and informed perspective, I can make decisions about which tools and techniques will be most valuable for my work.
MM: When do you decide a new technology is something you would like to explore in your artistic practice? Do you have certain criteria your decision is based on?
OF: What drives me is curiosity, and my criteria is accessibility. As soon as I can get my hands on a new tool that seems interesting, I go for it.
MM: You have an extensive background in various artistic mediums, including photography, digital art, and 3D art. How does a multidisciplinary practice best portray topics in your work?
OF: A multidisciplinary practice allows me to create work that is more complex, nuanced, and engaging as a result.
MM:You grew up with the Internet and were part of the post-Internet scene. In what ways does the Internet still inspire your art and art practice today?
OF: Actually, I grew up without the Internet. But my art was noticed because of the Internet (mainly Facebook). Digital technologies have made it easier for artists to create and distribute their work outside of traditional gallery and museum contexts and have given rise to new forms of creative collaboration and collective ownership. This has opened up new possibilities for artists to create works that are more collaborative, socially engaged, and responsive to the needs and interests of diverse audiences.
MM: Previously, you mentioned in an interview with Coeval Magazine that your creative workflow rarely has a clear intention, as that would limit the outcome. Why is having an element of chance important in the art you create?
OF: It can help to break down the barriers of preconception and expectation, allowing for new and unexpected ideas to emerge. By relinquishing some degree of control over the creative process, I can create space for serendipitous discoveries and spontaneous insights. Duchamp once said that if you conceive of the artist as a medium, then artists shouldn't have to explain their art or even be fully aware of how or where it originates.
MM: There is a storyline in all of your artworks, each one is like a short story. Do you have the storyline in mind when you start working?
OF: Sometimes storylines, sometimes only ideas.
MM: Surrealism is the dominant topic in your work. How do you envision surrealism for a contemporary audience?
OF: Surrealism can be a means of escaping the limitations of reality and exploring the possibilities of the imagination. In a world that can often feel oppressive or limiting, surrealism offers a space for audiences to dream, play, and experiment, and to create new visions of what is possible. But I don't want to make surrealist art in the historical sense of the term. I don't exactly have the same agenda as the surrealists; to me, it's more about being free.
MM: Your work is sometimes brutal and disturbing. Do you believe that art has to have an emotional effect on the viewer?
OF: The emotional effect of art is a subjective experience. We never know which work will touch the viewer emotionally. Some artists may focus on aesthetic or intellectual exploration rather than emotional impact; everything is possible.
MM: Many of your works are also humorous in their absurdity. Is art more effective when it makes people laugh and wonder?
OF: It is my personality. I love mysticism and fun.
MM: Men seem to be absent in your artwork. Instead, we see wild animals such as gorillas, horses, dogs, and crocodiles. Would you say that you are a feminist artist?
OF: I think animals and women are more attractive to me.
MM: How does having a digital art background inform your NFT creative process and understanding of blockchain and Web3?
OF: Honestly I'm thinking more about creativity.
MM: How did you begin working with AI in your art?
OF: I started in April 2022 just for fun. I was willing to experiment and explore new forms of expression.
MM: In your series SO COLD AND DEEP which is part of our exhibition RECOLLECTION. AI AND MEMORY in New York and London, you combine Greek sculptures, landscapes, and internet culture. Can we learn something from the past, or why did you bring these elements together?
OF: The SO COLD AND DEEP series explores the intersection of classical art, digital culture, and the natural world. By juxtaposing ancient Greek sculptures with contemporary Internet culture and natural landscapes, the series creates dreamlike visions from the past and present. At the same time, the use of digital imagery and Internet culture in the series serves as a dialogue with the rapid pace of technological change and the ways in which digital culture is reshaping our world.
MM: What are your thoughts about the future of AI? Your latest project, as you’ve described it yourself, evokes feelings of coldness. Is that how you feel about society living in an era shaped by AI?
OF: AI has the potential to transform many aspects of our lives, from healthcare and education to transportation and entertainment. It can help us make more informed decisions, automate repetitive tasks, and unlock new forms of creativity and innovation. However, AI also poses significant challenges and risks, particularly around issues such as privacy, bias, and accountability.
MM: Do you have recommendations for artists starting to work with AI?
OF: Experiment with different techniques, stay curious, and keep learning.