SYNCHRODOGS is an artist Group composed by two Ukrainian photographers Tania Shcheglova and Roman Noven shooting together since 2008. We have the pleasure to talk with them about their really interesting work.
They have a publication list everyone would dream of: New York Magazine, AnOther, Dazed and Confused, Esquire, Vice (UK, USA, Russia, Spain, Italy, Germany). They shoot for Kenzo, Bimba & Lola, Urban Outfitters and Sheriff & Cherry. Their work has showed in solo and group exhibitions around the world and they’ve won several awards.
Giangiacomo Cirla: Let’s start with the basic, how did you first get involved in photography and How did you meet?
SYNCHRODOGS: We met each other on Internet as we both had accounts on some photography website (which is so old school now that nobody uses it anymore). We are from two different cities 8 hours by train from each other so we decided to first meet in the city that was just between.
GC: What did you see in each other in order to work together as Synchrodogs?
S: We started shooting together the day we met, it felt so natural, no arguments, just same vision. That was the reason for choosing ‘Synchro’ in our name as we had same ideas and perceptions in general.
GC: Are you still living in the Ukraine?
S: We travel a lot for work and exhibition openings, but basically love coming back to a place we call home (that is Western Ukraine). We have a wonderful big flat with windows facing lake and mountains, and all people here in Ukraine are openhearted and just great.
GC: Are there aspects of your work that are purely related to your homeland?
S: Sure. Ukraine brought us up as people and as artists, it deprived us of art and fashion education in its wide sense and let us develop ourselves, gave us life unspoiled by trends and other peoples visions. Now it is changing a lot, Ukraine is going through some kind of hype, but ten years ago we remember it being almost like empty field.
GC: Your work is particular and unique, what are the main issues that you are investigating?
S: We would like people to evaluate natural environment more, want nature to become an inspiration to live better lives, want to make people be more thoughtful about resources and their limits, finally to just start living less urbanised style of life.
GC: Your surrealist aesthetics focuses on the human figure but also focuses heavily on the surrounding environment, what importance these two components have?
S: These are two subjects that have a very deep connection and are also very interdependent, influencing each other irreversibly. We just came back home after one month enduro motorbike trip across Carpathian mountains where we were working on a new project that deals with exploitation of nature a lot. One month gives a huge experience, you get to know how thousands of trees are being cut weekly, all illegally, for the sake of getting paid, you see stuffed animals in every restaurant and mountain house but you meet zero animals alive in forests. Once we even found a burning tree on a hill as people didnt put enough water into fire after cooking some food in it and we had to liquidate it with our water leftovers and with help of our legs. People are often irresponsible with Planet they are living, and the roots come partly from the lack of education, not the kind of education where we learn how to count or understand how things work, but the other one – aesthetic education, the one that teaches people appreciate nature more.
GC: How do you choose the locations?
S: Nature has always been our biggest inspiration, we find beauty in it easily, if we watch – we see. But the location search is where you can see best how two perfectionists select things, we spend really a lot time and efforts usually.
GC: Nudity is another protagonist in your works, why is that?
S: Because it is preconditioned by nature. Human is something abstract in our works though, it is pure still irrational, doesn’t have any rules or algorithm, just like a tree that grows widely in any direction it wants.
GC: Where do you find inspiration?
S: We get a lot of ideas from night dreams, also love observing everything around, especially when visiting some countries where life makes people invent things, Ukraine is one of those by the way.
GC: Every artist has his own preparatory methods before they act, can you talk about your night meditation and lucid dreaming techniques?
S: We tried meditating for many times at day time, it never actually worked for us, there was always something disturbing: the street, the rain, the sound of elevator, people etc. At the same time we were always one of those that go to sleep really late, has a lot of thoughts even at night, in other words our brain was very active, especially when it was supposed to sleep. So over the years we developed a way to calm our thoughts down at nighttime by doing some monotonous exercises in our imagination, but something obviously went wrong and we noticed seeing some kind of night dreams while being still partly awake, instead of falling asleep. We started making notes of those hypnagogic hallucinations (yes! those visions we’ve seen while trying to fall asleep has a scientific name) to stage them afterwards in our personal projects. It doesn’t always work as it is of initial importance to wake yourself up in the middle of the night to write your vision down, otherwise you will never remember of it in the morning, you have to catch that subtle moment between wakefulness and sleep.
GC: How would you describe your style?
S: We think our style is unconventional, not only in art, but in clothes, lifestyle, activities we like. We find a lot of beauty in irrational things, even flaws can be perfect.
GC: You have a very strong relationship with the internet and online dynamics, what do you think about this medium?
S: Internet is wonderful for connecting people. It helped us a lot to get known even though we were never expecting it to help us in any exact way. We love communicating with people, even though we were the last people on Earth with no instagram page and only created it a year ago.
GC: How is the contemporary artistic situation of the new generation of artists in Ukraine?
S: It is developing quite fast, if you are ever in Kiev you can visit Pinchuk Art Center, it is always exhibiting best Ukrainian and international artists. In 2013 we were also nominated for Pinchuk Art Prize and had exhibition there. It is a 5-floor space, a truly good example.
GC: Since your visibility is growing you feel any responsibility towards the Ukraine Art scene?
S: We always felt ourselves like the residents of the World, so we never actually divided people into Ukrainians and foreigners. We are responsible for the message we are conveying, but the responsibility can not be something addressed towards one country only, it is the message we equally address to all the people of the World.
GC: Presenting your work to the public is always a thrilling moment and full of tensions, do you remember your first exhibition and the emotions you’ve experienced?
S: Of course we had some local exhibitions in Ukraine when we were small kitties, and some international group shows as well, but our first major solo show opened in Chicago in Public Works gallery in 2011. It is still thrilling to open every show, but when you start communicating with people you forget about tension at all and only later find yourself feeling easy in hotel room after 5 hours of heavy talking.
GC: And now, are you used to approvals and attentions?
S: We dont know, we never notice. We just live our life answering emails, preparing shootings, organising shows, dealing with publications, taking care of social media, it became ordinary and it was never overwhelming.
GC: Have you ever thought about other artistic media?
S: Sure, video and VR sound interesting.
GC: You often work on commercial projects, how do you relate to this field?
S: We actually love both working on personal art projects, later on commercial fashion shootings. We do not agree to shoot any project, just those we really like, its our main rule – shoot less but all good is better then shoot more but all average.
GC: What are your plans for the future?
S: We would love to issue a book as our previous books are sold out, but its not like we plan to, just that we would be happy to. As for plans we are issuing a clothing line soon together with American skate clothing brand Akomplice, hope people will enjoy our prints on organic cotton.
GC: Since you are very busy, do you think that sooner or later we will be able to talk again to update us? (laugh)
S: Sure. We have to run though! Our urgent dinner is waiting for us in the kitchen and we also have an important meeting today on our balcony watching sunset, hope for your understanding.
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