14 Plus: Young Women in Margarita Bagdasaryan’s Portfolio
Moved from Sevastopol to Kyiv, and later to Moscow. Entered the Directing and Cinematography Department of the Moscow School of New Cinema and started looking for character types for her movie.
— I just came back from Crimea [in September], I am sick of vacationing.
I went to see my friends, my Dad, and my brother. When I finished school there, I went to Kyiv to study to be an art critic. I dropped out because I realized I wanted to be an actress. I moved to Moscow, failed exams at theater school, but then remembered my second passion — cinema. I went to study at the Moscow School of New Cinema, Directing and Cinematography Department, with Fred Kelemen as our year’s curator. Now I am 24, I work as an assistant to a theater director, and I also do my personal photo projects.
I planned on making my own movie during my studies, so I was looking for character types for it everywhere. That was how I started taking pictures of people I liked on the subway, doing a sort of casting. Some of them I approached and explained to them who I was and why I needed their picture. We exchanged numbers and agreed on a photo shoot. My first model was 19-year-old two-meter-tall Polina whom I noticed on the street. And she remains my favorite. As a result of this casting, I have a large database, and I put off my idea for the movie.
I managed to implement the idea with sleeping and tired people in the exhibition project called Russian Death. I printed black-and-white photographs of people sleeping on the subway that I took on a Leica. I didn’t really know my way with film back then, so the images turned out dark and gloomy, but that was kind of the mood of the series, so it worked. I put the photographs on sheet pans and poured water over them. The exhibition lasted for one and a half months, and in this time the photographs almost disappeared. This was my original idea: dead tired.
The exhibition lasted for one and a half months, and in this time the photographs almost disappeared.
One time, I saw a 14-year-old girl with her grandmother. I approached them, asked grandma for the girl’s mother’s number, and agreed with her about a photo shoot. Vera came to the meeting alone and immediately hugged me for some reason.
Why do I mostly take photographs of young women? I don’t know. It just happened somehow. Everything starts from a person. I have an image in my mind, and then I need to make it come to life no matter what.
My models are mostly ready to being photographed naked. A naked body is a very powerful instrument that I use as an artist. However, there is a big problem with censorship on Facebook and Instagram: I can’t post photographs where female nipples are visible. As a result, I always keep that in mind during my shoots. Soon though I will open my own website where I will post everything without censorship.
I always keep that ban in mind during my shoots.
I use a Canon Mark 3D camera, I also sometimes use well-known tricks: for example, rub my lens with vaseline to make the picture more mysterious.
I am now working on a project where women with weapons will be photographed with Russian landscapes in the background. Vasilisa has a hunting gun in her arms that her friend loaned us. For Nastya, I bought a bow and arrows on the Avito advertisement website. There will be a new type of weapon every time, so now I am looking into that, too. I photograph my female characters on a film point-and-shoot camera, Olympus Mju II with a built-in flash — which provides me with a necessary primitivity effect.
The model that is most available to me is myself. Sometimes I have an idea, and I need to implement it no matter what. So I implement it on myself.