Kristina Shakht's ancient statue-inspired portraits
The New York-based Russian photographer presents a new chapter in her work.
Last summer, photographer Kristina Shakht took a series of eerily quiet portraits on New York's desolate streets during lockdown. She presented them on i-D, at a moment when returning to her family was not an option. "I wanted to visit my family in Saint Petersburg, but I think I'll only be able to do it next summer, which will mean two years of not seeing them," she told us at the time.
Kristina is switching her perspective to one that's far more intimate and intrinsic to her for her latest project. "This is a new chapter in my work," she says. "This project is about exploring female gaze, femininity and the body. My main goal is to normalise women's bodies, not as sexual objects but as pieces of art," she says, referencing Ancient Greek statues, and Italian and French renaissance painters that would portray people "as they are". "It always seemed very natural -- I'm trying to give my pictures that same feeling."
Having grown up in Russia, "where pictures like these are considered inappropriate", Kristina wants to celebrate women she admires sensually. "As a sexual assault survivor, this work is my healing process in accepting my own body," she says. "I feel like it helps me to gain back my power."
A collaboration with models Yuri Tachi and Jo Rosenthal, she ensures these exchanges are nothing but symbiotic and natural. "I only shoot those who I like as a person first of all, that's rule Number 0," she says. "Rule Number 1 is choosing models with a unique personality and look. It's very important in photography, and life in general, to have a connection with your subject. I treat my models as equal collaborators. Before the shoot, I always discuss what they're ready for and say that they can say no to anything they don't like or don't feel like doing."
All images courtesy Kristina Shakht