Jellyfish in Art Work

Jellyfish in Art Work

Ustina Yakovleva: “Creativity is an ambivalent process: you create work, work changes you”
Interview with the artist

Article by Maritima01

Ustina Yakovleva, one of the most demanded young Russian artists, talks about her new projects and tells how the quarantine has changed her life for the better. Based on interiew for

How do you spend your time during the quarantine?

I was caught by the quarantine in Sochi, where I was living in the art residency Tsvetnye Gory (Colored Mountains) located in Rosa Khutor Resort. When my stay there was over, I called my mother in Moscow, and she advised me that was better not to return. We found a nice place for me and my friends in Sochi. It’s springtime here, plus 15 degrees. Even without going outside, just looking out the window is a pleasure.

How did the quarantine change your plans?

It changed them for the better. The end of 2019 and the beginning of this year were busy and intense for me: participation in the V Ural Biennale of contemporary art in Yekaterinburg, the art residence of the NCCA in Kronstadt, where I worked with the Finnish artist Sylvia Javen, then moved to Sochi. And, suddenly – silence. There is nothing to do, there is nowhere to hurry: the exhibitions scheduled for May have been postponed to the second half of the year. I can prepare for the exhibitions in a quiet and temperate way. For the first ten days of the quarantine, I meditated, contemplated, and was infinitely happy.

Is it difficult to adapt to being confined within four walls?

I spend a few months a year in art residences, life there is like being imprisoned in a tower: you sit and work, communicate only with the manager on some minor domestic issues. So I didn’t have to significantly change the established way of life due to the quarantine restrictions.

In your work, you boldly combine contemporary art issues with the techniques of decorative and applied art-embroidery. Why?

I was trained in a classical art tradition, and in this field, the craft – the ability to make an artistic product with your own hands – is of a high value. I meet and communicate with professional embroiderers and — more broadly — people from the decorative and applied fields with some thrill. I feel a bit like an impostor. But, as it turned out, they are very happy with such “interventions” by modern artists. We give them a new look, air, and ideas. Folk art is a monolith, it can’t be reformed, but you can use ancient technologies to create your own forms — images of contemporary art.

Your jellyfish at the Yekaterinburg Biennale was a great success. What was the impetus for their creation?

The first experience of scuba diving among fish and corals. I also wanted to move from, relatively speaking, images to objects. At first, I embroidered “beans” with colored beads, and then I thought that they just need a tail, like jellyfish.

You have amazingly beautiful hair! Didn’t you see the jellyfish tails in the mirror when you were combing your long hair?

Creativity is an ambivalent process: you create artwork, artwork changes you. Art modifies the artist’s personality.