"I’ve always thought photography was this strange thing that’s somewhere between real life and fantasy and I think my work engages heavily in that."
U: Who are you and what do you do?
VK: I’m from a small village on the outskirts of Leicester, I moved to London to study and I am still living there. I’ve been taking pictures for about 9 years now, and more recently have been doing it professionally.
U: What characterizes your work and describe your personal style?
VK: I’ve always thought photography was this strange thing that’s somewhere between real life and fantasy and I think my work engages heavily in that...Although I don’t want to limit myself I do seem to come back to certain things conceptually again and again.. I’m very interested in subjects that lie outside of an every day setting; elevated emotional states, spirituality, space, sex, alchemy. Also there’s an obsession over intimate details, colours, textures, light refractions, skin.. Its often about creating another version of reality that feels more magical or elevated.
U: How do your own experiences influence your work?
VK: Although I don’t think my pictures are a particularly literal interpretation of my life, they are very personal and often made as a reaction of my own experiences and feelings. Sometimes taking photographs is a way of processing an experience, or speaking about things I can’t or don’t want to verbalise. A lot of ideas come from something I’ve seen, or felt, memories.. its my way of processing the world.
U: What will you be showing at the uncontaminated festival?
VK: A selection of work that I feel is most personal.
U: What do you want to communicate through your work? Is there a message political or otherwise?
VK: I always try and create something that feels authentic and has an emotional quality to it.. Even if it’s a something that could feel otherworldly or contrieved, I’ll strive for there to be a sense of believability. I don’t want my pictures to tell the viewer what to think necessarily, I like the idea of there being space to project yourself and your own experience onto them...As for politics, the act of creating itself can be political, it’s a rejection of the ordinary, of immediate circumstance. It’s a way processing dissatisfaction, joy, pain; literally or metaphorically. It can be a very healing and cathartic process.
The subjects of the images are important.. I always ask myself, why are they there? What are they conveying? How are you representing them? Some of my personal work was made in collaboration with sex and cinema collective, A Four Chambered Heart, which is run by one of my oldest friends and collaborators, Vex. This project is made in collaboration with a variety of adult performers and artists and aims to challenge the notion that pornography cannot be art, and explore the sensory and emotional qualities of sexuality, free from gendered labels or constraints.
U: Do artists have some kind of responsibility?
VK: Images have a huge amount of power and photography especially can be something that create change and shift perception, its important to always have that in mind when creating work; to think about where it is going to sit, how it will be read and what does it say about its subjects.
In a climate that disables so many artist from surviving creatively and profiting from their work; art and fashion industries as whole have a responsibility to enable voices from a wide spectrum of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds to be able flourish within them.
U: What does uncontaminated mean for you?
VK: Freedom, and luxury.
U: What is the most important thing in your life?
VK: My friends, family, my cat. Keeping myself happy and healthy. Creativity, always.
U: How do you feel right now?
VK: Hopeful and anxious.
U: If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
VK: I’d get rid of injustice and inequality.
U: What are the main reasons for joining the festival this year?
VK: I think when you first start making work you are making it purely for the fact that you want to create it, its entirely intuitive. There’s something very pure about that, this festival celebrates that method of working. When you start making commissions for clients, its being made for lots of different reasons opposed to the fact that you just want to make it. It’s exciting to be able to engage in something that’s so aware of that.
U: What is the most important drive for you to create and why?
VK: It’s very impulsive. There’s a need to get ideas out in to the world. Before I started photography I felt very frustrated creatively because I had a lot creative energy but no medium to enable it, so when I discovered making pictures I became quite obsessed with it. It’s one of the few things that exist that allow you to mould and rewrite reality into something of your choosing.
U: Who or what do you value for as a great inspiration for you creatively
VK: Experience, being able to feel things intensely.. knowledge. Light. Being creative makes you find joy in the world
U: Can you elaborate on an important moment in your life were you experienced a big change, chose to make one or another event which altered your way of thinking or your approach to creativity?
VK: I think moving to London was the biggest. I didn’t get on particularly well with the structure of school, and left before getting any formal qualifications. So discovering photography gave me a lot of confidence and purpose. I moved to London to study it and completely immersed myself. For a long time I would make pictures purely for the joy of making them, I didn’t really think about it being a profession or consider myself as an artist, it was a compulsive thing I just had to do, its still like that now really.
U: How does digital and social media affect or inspire your life and creations?
VK: It is incredibly important as it’s the one place that you have complete control over your work; what you show and how you show it. Generally I try not to think too much about social media when creating work, its generally the end part of the process for me, the sharing part. Sometimes a source of anxiety!
U: What do you define art?
VK: Big question.. and I think the short answer is everything! Anything you want to elevate and obsesss over.
U: What is your definition of artistic freedom?
VK: Being able to make work that is unfettered by outside influences. Coupled with self-belief and the means to create.
U: Is there a difference for you between art and commercial/commissioned work?
VK: Of course when there’s more opinions involved that can lead things going in many different directions, and the likelihood that they won’t be your first choice is much higher.
U: Do you struggle to find artistic freedom in the span between commissioned work and your personal needs to express yourself?
VK: It’s very variable, depending on the commission. When your voice and personal style is listened to collaborating with a client can be enlightening and can open you up to new ways of working,. Other times it is more of a struggle.
U: What do you aspire to? In the near future? In life in general?
VK: Keep growing.. learning new things. I never want to be still. I’d like to get really good at making films. Share more stories.
U: How do you feel art and fashion intervene?
VK: When its done right they can be a beautiful pairing, there needs to be space made for art to happen.. for other things to be conveyed as well as selling something. I think fashion works best when its part of a wider world or message, marrying it with art can allow that to happen. Making artwork can be a solitary and insular experience, whilst fashion is much more collaborative, a conversation.
U: What is a great example of a fashion/art collaboration in your view?
VK: When brands commission artists for their personal style and take the time to understand their perspective and how it can fit in with what they are trying to say.
U: Where do you think art and fashion is heading in our digital age?
VK: Everything has been opened up so much more by the internet, divides that exist in the physical world are much more fluid online. People can share much more easily and artists have access to an infinite audience, that perhaps would not usually be accessible to them. I think that’s important and exciting. A much wider variety of voices and perceptions are being allowed to be heard, I only hope that continues and grows.