Vasilisa Forbes: Schizophrenic Silence


Vasilisa Forbes is an internationally published and exhibited visual artist and photographer.She has been shortlisted for the Bar-Tur Award and is a Sony World Photography Awards Commended and Shortlisted Photographer. Vasilisa self-published a photography book entitled ‘In Silence Are Shadows’ at a young age, which was promoted by Dazed Digital and Vision China. Her work has been selected by curators of the BALTIC Contemporary Art Centre, the Barbican, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris and Saatchi amongst others. Vasilisa’s practice employs the use of photography and mixed media collage to generate works which extend the dimensions of photography through installations, fusing of opposing disciplines and superposition of visual information, to create an objectified form.

Your work has been described as «schizophrenic in its ability to be quiet, even moody». Does this phrase really reflect your point of view?

It is funny that it was said. I remember asking a friend and they strongly disagreed, but I believe there is definitely truth in that statement. My work does range so much in terms of its style and output, some series are very dark and monochrome, or ’emotive’, whereas some are aggressive with bold colours like red and black, and others are super colourful and graphic. In truth, I am like this in life also. I go through stages like most people, where you may enjoy one thing for a short amount of time and then suddenly become very interested in the opposite side of it, which is like a way of constantly discovering and learning through different interests. A bit like the way that trends and ideals work on a large scale. As a culture, I think our way of thinking has become this way. The fashion and art and business worlds all live by a rule of going from one extreme to the exact other. I.e. minimalism is out, long live opulence, and then minimalism is back with even more minimalism, and then suddenly maximalism is in!

What is your intention before creating an image? Is there some sort of premeditation, something specific that you would like to put across? A vision, maybe? Or is your work mainly spontaneous?

There are elements of both (works which arise from a spontaneous feeling, and those which are more premeditated). Some series arise from ‘process’, this isn’t really spontaneous but more of a connection of various different forms of working. Some series like Gyrate are still to be awakened fully as 3D installations and wall-scale works, ‘scenarios’ in a large scale. Most of the images are also like this in other series. The intentions are usually the same. Either I am exploring a sensation which has come from an experience, in a way of connecting experience (emotion) and creating things. Then there is also a desire to look at the way people explore contemporary culture, because obviously that is always interesting for people.

Up to this point, you have received a lot of positive and even impressive reviews along with important awards. Does this acknowledgement affect your work in a positive way? Have you ever found yourself under a lot of pressure to meet the high standards you yourself have set?

Yes it definitely helps the work and also gives momentum to it. It can be so crucial to have someone else judge your work and give you feedback, as of course this makes you question yourself and grow. I always try and find someone I trust to give me important feedback, as it really helps the editing and developing process. I don’t feel the pressure in that way, only in the way to encourage work to be displayed or so on.

If you could take one last shot and had to name this “the look of love”, what would you look at through your lens?

It’s a heavy question! Probably the boy I like most at the moment, or my cat. Or both of them together. It’s a cliche answer I know but I think it would have to be something living..

Interview: Nelly Skoyfatoglou