Russian-born Kristina Varaksina is an award-winning conceptual photographer based in London. Through visual symbolism, carefully curated colour palettes and cinematic lighting, she constructs thought-provoking images – with the aim “to make “ordinary” women more visible.” Figures sit against stark white backdrops, enshrouded in various materials or bathed in light and shadow.
In one self-portrait, the artist wraps her body entirely in bright red thread. In others, strands of hair cascade down from her shoulders, whilst plastic packaging materials obscure the face. The series might be seen as a claustrophobic, 21st century take on classical painting, with Varaksina holding the viewer’s gaze.
Uncanny and deeply intriguing, the body of work also includes still life. Cut-out lips and ears are reflected in geometric mirrors, evoking the senses of touch and hearing. Collage and abstraction collide in images reminiscent of Hannah Höch and Barbara Kasten. They are an extension of the photographer’s wider, personal oeuvre – exploring “the vulnerabilities, insecurities and self-searching of a woman and artist.”
Varaksina places a strong focus on emotion – a desire to reflect the inner world and psychology of every subject. It’s an approach which, in 2020, led her to be recognised by several major awards – including Portrait of Britain, LensCulture Critics Choice and British Journal of Photography’s Portrait of Humanity. Recent commissions include Harper’s Bazaar, The Telegraph, Sally Hansen and the BBC.
All images courtesy Kristina Varaksina.
1&7. Breakfast at Sea
2. Self Portrait, Red Thread
3. Self Portrait, Shaved Head
6. Self Portrait, Bubble Wrap