Sasha Frolova is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Moscow, Russia. Working with large-scale installations, sculpture, costume design and performance, Frolova often puts herself into her work – creating a spectacle with depth– that has led to wins like, 2014’s Alternative Miss World. Blowing up a storm ever since, the artist is known for her eccentric and eye-catching designs where she often creates an incredibly surreal world for her audience to participate in. Of her work, Frolova says she wants it “to give joy and inspiration when you look at it, as if you saw something inconceivable.”
Working with latex as her main material since 2008, we caught up with this remarkable artist to see what inspires her practice, how she came up with her ‘Cyber Marie Antoinette’ performance piece, as well as her plans for the future.
Could you explain the concept behind this shoot?
The performance itself was dedicated to Marie Antoinette and inspired by her epoch. The inflatable sculptural fashion pieces were created from latex. I lead this performance myself, accompanied by classical ballet dancers. I have been travelling with this work all around the world from Venice to Los Angeles. Excitingly, Nicole Kidman has modeled these costumes for W magazine, photographed by the one and only, Tim Walker.
The concept was based on Baroque style costumes, with modernity in mind. I collaborated with an amazing photographer, Irina Voiteleva. And the photoshoot was based in Tsaritsyno Palace, Moscow; a development of a performance I held a few months earlier in France (Etretat Gatdens, Normandie).
How have people responded this particular piece?
Most of the people like it and this is very rare. I had an amazing success showing my costumes at Venice carnival this year. Some people call me balloon princess or some have associations with mozzarella even, haha!
I would like people to be delighted and fascinated by my art. I want my art to give joy and inspiration when you look at it, as if you saw something inconceivable.
I am interested in the juxtaposition between the themes of naivety and the sex (which latex brings) It has the effect of disturbing influence on the viewer, who does not understand how to perceive it, and begins to argue with themselves about what they see. I want the art that I do to shift the angle of view, I want to hypnotize and excite my viewers, furthermore – it is my aim to engage them in an emotional sense by perceiving ordinary things in a new way.
Do you feel as if the performance changed in terms of the country and environment it was shown at?
Yes, for sure, I like this aspect very much. This makes every performance special, different, unique. Context and environment give new meanings and move this performance in a completely different direction. Different environments inspire me to improvise, to add something new, to develop fresh ideas and as a result – bring me to the next level.
Where do you get your inspiration from in general?
I try to find inspiration in any moment and to find beauty in everything. I studied graphic design when I was younger; I am interested in composition, symbolism portrayed by two-dimensional and three-dimensional structures.
Many things inspire me: contemporary art, classical art and music, nature, travelling and popular culture. I also love Japan, Japanese ways of thinking and Japanese contemporary artists. With my sculptures – Some aspects look flat from a certain points of view, and then look completely voluminous from another…this is such an interesting effect that shines a light on perspective and perhaps even consciousness. I long to find some original forms that are relevant at that moment.
I experimented with the notion of twentieth century ‘femininity’ from a satirical point of view with AQUAAEROBIKA, a previous project. I experiment with expectations from the thirties, and the futurism of the sixties, and the insane brightness of raves of the nineties – Then it is all mixed up in one colorful character.
Now, the Baroque and Rococo period is a huge inspiration for my practice – the costumes, architecture and music. In particular – Baroque redundancy and biomorphism. It is interesting to rethink baroque aesthetic and plastic with my visual language in performance and in sculpture. As a result, I ended up with this strange cyber baroque or balloon baroque ballet.
Latex has been the key material throughout your practice which is really interesting…What is your attraction to Latex all about?
I have been working with latex since 2008, it is my favorite material. I use it for creating costumes, sculptures and large-scale installations. Latex is very sensitive and difficult to work with party because of the fact that it is afraid of UV rays and time, Latex can remain airtight for up to six months…
But I like its ephemerality, airiness, softness and smoothness. Latex sculptures seem alive. But unfortunately, like all live things, they are temporary. The process of shaping Latex has a great importance to me, the form swells, stretches with smooth bends. This effect is difficult to achieve when carving from marble or when sculpting from plaster. The material itself creates the form and I am fascinated by this co-creation – you never know how the pattern will swell, you try to figure it out, and this is a very interesting process.
My first latex sculpture was called Lyubolet. I created it in 2008 for an exhibition dedicated to aliens and everything extraterrestrial. Lyubolet also involved pefomance art, it was a surreal fantasy based on the subject of how a spaceship might have looked if the energy of love had become its fuel. The spacecraft is designed for two astronauts and it can fly up only with the absolute reciprocity and symmetry of their feelings. Together with the sculpture, I designed two spacesuits. I have not been able to take off yet, but I continue to search for a partner and believe that in the future it will succeed!
How do you find being a female international artist? Do you feel as if your art transcends boundaries?
Female art is a trend now. But for me more important to be an artist, this is the first. I believe true art has no gender. I think the aim of any art is to transcend boundaries and I try to do this with my art. I’ve been chosen by vogue.com among 100 of artists who pushing boundaries and it was a honor for me. I think artists should create something entirely new, something that has not existed before, to shift reality into the future.
What are your plans for the future?
Right now, I am preparing for a solo exhibition next year at Moscow Museum of Modern Art, which is very stimulating!
In the future, I would love to make a full ballet performance with these costumes, It would be interesting to combine elements of both theatre and opera as I like to work with classical material and to rethink it.
Last year I did costume design for opera production of “Magic Flute” by Mozart for Moscow Helikon Opera Theater and it was an amazing experience that I liked very much.
Yasmine Akim | WRITER