meet naturist ukrainian photographers synchrodogs
The photo duo discusses their artistic process, getting naked and being chased through the mountains by police.
A body in a metallic mermaid suit lounging in a rockpool, a naked girl painted like a rainbow, a nude figure sitting in the crevice of a mountain - these are the dreamlike scenes that photographer duo Synchrodogs create in their waking lives. Based in the Ukraine, fine art photographers Tania Schcheglova and Roman Noven have been making striking work together under the name Synchrodogs since 2008. And while their animalistic poses and wild landscapes might communicate a disenchantment with society, they've also won over both glossy magazines (see: their witty series of Leonardo DiCaprio portraits) and fashion brands including Kenzo.
We caught up with Tania and Roman as they prepare for their upcoming solo show at Dallas Contemporary.
Nudity and nature play very important roles in your personal work - why you are drawn to both?
We never shoot models for our own projects, just ourselves. We think about our art as an act of self-discovery. Our images are always nature-related and, within them, a human is something that exists in the context of Planet Earth. Nudity is a state preconditioned by nature and we want to preserve that connection in our photography.
How did growing up in the Ukraine influence the way you photograph?
We were both born and brought up in Ukraine and it's made us distinctive to some extent. It gave us the best conditions in which to search for our inner sense, conditions in which you have to seek out experiences for yourself and be self-taught. The cities we're from are in Western Ukraine and we live about an hour away from the mountains. There isn't much of an art scene there, and it's hard to find i-D or any other magazines that might give you an idea of what modern life looks like. It makes people authentic and independent from global trends.
The set of images titled "Synchrodogs" features the two of you mimicking each other, and in your other work, there are a lot of visual parallels. Is parallelism a conscious theme in your work?
We're like mirror images of each other - we're very alike, sometimes eerily so, like when we say out loud what the other one just thought. So if parallelism is something we are drawn to, we're doing it subconsciously!
I read that you shoot exclusively on film - why is that?
It's just easier for us to feel the responsibility, to know that we have an exact number of frames and they all have to be good. It's much easier to make a selection from 36 great pictures rather than from 200 average ones.
What are the perks of working as a duo? And what are the challenges?
It's better to have somebody with the same tastes and perceptions as a teammate - you don't have to argue about basic things. And we can multitask: while one is us is answering interview questions, the other is urgently editing pictures! It makes life calmer. And what's difficult? Lots of things, like shooting a project for a month and driving 4000 miles in a rental car - which we just did in the US, because we're opening a solo show at Dallas Contemporary in September.
What's your creative process like? How much planning goes into each shot?
Our attitude towards making art has changed a lot since 2008 - we've moved gradually from more spontaneous shoots to meticulously planned and staged scenes. But our location scouting is still very spontaneous - we're absolutely devoted to finding the most unique places. We may come home totally scratched up, having walked through a field of thorn bushes in shorts, but having a great photograph, or having had the experience of running across mountains at night - being chased by policemen - that makes it worthwhile.
Text Shriya Samavai