Interview with: Nadja Shkirat
Nadja Shkirat is a Jerusalem-based professional photographer, visual artist and educator from Germany. She studied art education at the University of Leipzig, Germany and continued her artistic education in photography at the Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design Halle (Saale), Germany, where she learned to work with various photographic mediums and techniques. She is participating in photography courses at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design Jerusalem, Israel to intensify her artistic research and knowledge. Currently she is working as a photography lecturer at the Dar Al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture.
Her visual art presents a surreal, vivid and vibrant imagery. Mainly focussing on analog photography she creates bright and colorful photographs mixing the grotesque with the beautiful. To her, photographs are more than just a copy of something, they are an entrance to a world and a story that she is creating with her own eyes. Commenting on ideals of beauty, sexuality and consumerism, Nadja Shkirat´s work visualizes questions about ideology, aesthetics and social behaviors.
Welcome Nadja, I would like to start this interview from the beginning, do you remember which artist or which artwork moved something inside you when you were a child?
As a child I don´t remember which artist moved me. During that time I was more interested in japanese comics and drawing manga characters. When I was a teenager I remember that we talked and learned about several artists during art class in high school. The artists that impressed me the most were Joseph Beuys, Jackson Pollock, Wassily Kandinsky and Andy Warhol. The artist that I emotionally connected the most and moved something inside me was Frieda Kahlo.
And then? how have your approach and references changed growing up?
In my childhood I started a lot with drawing and painting. I was mostly fascinated at that time by comics, manga and anime. During my high school years my interest shifted more in doing acrylic painting, watercolor painting and using different graphical techniques like Linocut and Drypoint. I loved to experiment with various techniques and methods. Because of my passion for art I decided to study art and education and received the opportunity to expand my knowledge in different art forms like installation, bookbindery, painting and sculpture. During my BA I joined a photography class, which was my first time experiencing that medium. I was instantly intrigued and discovered the endless possibilities that photography offers. For my final art project I chose surreal photography. After completing my BA my mind was set to study photography further and to expand my photographic knowledge. Since my master degree in photography I am working as a visual artist and professional photographer. Currently I am mostly focussing on photography because it visualizes my thoughts and concepts the best way possible.
How would you describe your practice to someone who doesn‘t know you? what are the recurring elements, themes, concepts you refer to?
As a visual artist and photographer I am mainly concentrating on still life, flower and portrait photography. My artistic concepts and themes are referring to consumerism, feminism, sexuality, environment and utopia. I like to find and choose my own projects by observing, commenting and criticizing on beauty ideals and political standpoints. Elements that are recurring are floral designs, colorful backgrounds, analogous and
complementary color palettes and objects like dolls, flowers, plastic and grotesque objects and interesting subjects that are catching my eyes.
Usually each artist has a different modus operandi, what is yours? how did your projects start and how do they develop?
My projects usually start by thoughts, ideas and observations that are occupying my mind. My inspirations are also coming from theories, mysteries and intriguing books that I have read. In general I like to discover my surroundings and usually ideas are coming naturally. After finding my concept I want to work on, I love to experiment with different approaches like using different cameras, film, lenses or lighting techniques till I determine the right one. In addition I draw little sketches of ideas that I want to visualize. The whole photographic process is very intuitive and sometimes spontaneous. While working more ideas and ways to photograph my concept are occurring to me. I would describe my whole development from theme, to concept to implementation as very experimentell, instinctive, natural and sometimes even impulsive.
What function do you attribute to your works and why?
For the most part I am drawn to controversial topics which is my main reason for doing art. This is what I want to achieve with photography, to artistically criticize or identify issues in society, politics or to question social media and its negative impacts.
We need art to criticize, to point out and to emphasize in order to show the viewers something different that results in questioning themselves or results in leading an open and honest discussion.