Olga Mikh Fedorova is a Belgium-based multimedia artist who is currently focusing on digital 3D—that is, three-dimensional digital art—as her primary medium. Despite only recently starting to work in this way, she has quickly become one of the talents to watch in digital art.
Fedorova’s work explores contemporary obsessions with clinical modernism and sterile technology, which she uneasily couples with a unique blend of untamed nature and raw sexuality. Her strange tableaux feels like single moments from a science fiction narrative. Fedorova presents the viewer with a satisfying puzzle to solve about the sequence of events that lead up to, and follow, these scenes.
I spoke to Fedorova about her recent conversion to digital art and what influences her extraordinary creations.
Christian Petersen: There is not much information about you online. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Olga Fedorova: I grew up in Moscow and studied at the Surikov Art Academy at the Faculty of Graphic Design. I did not finish my studies there and moved to Belgium. In Brussels I studied painting at the Ecole nationale supérieure des arts visuels de La Cambre (ENSAV), a leading architecture and visual arts school in Belgium, where I graduated a few years ago.
CP: What’s the new media art scene like in Belgium?
OF: I think digital art is still limited. There are a few places like iMAL, Argos, and Bozar Electronic Arts Festival where you can see interesting exhibitions. Bjornus Van der Borght, a curator from Ghent, regularly organizes very good group exhibitions in Retune, inviting emerging artists who work with new media. The commercial galleries are very conservative—they don’t know how to sell this kind of art.
CP: What was your first experience of computer generated art?
OF: Glitch and others apps.
CP: When did you first make some yourself?
OF: About two years ago. But I did not take it very seriously.
CP: What were your first experiences of computers and how did you become interested in using them to make art?
OF: My first contact was in 1989. My father and brother assembled a new computer from the parts of an IBM 360. I just remember I played Digger and Tetris. I always wanted to play and create images, digital art, but I did not have enough knowledge. So two years ago, when I also felt I needed a break from painting, I downloaded the 3ds Max and began to work. Every day, step by step I was learning how to use this amazing and fascinating software. I also took private lessons.
CP: Up until recently you worked in a more traditional, video-based style.
OF: Yes, it’s true. I like to try different media. I am originally a painter and it really helps me with my digital art now, especially regarding composition.
CP: When and why did you decide to start experimenting with 3D?
OF: As I said, a couple of years ago I began using 3ds Max and found out that it allowed me to make unlimited experiments. At the same time I began to learn ZBrush and Marvelous Designer. What I really enjoy when I create my images is that I am at the same time a sculptor, a painter, a photographer, and sometimes a stylist. Also I can use different textures which I cannot use in real life, such as gold or silver. So I have greater freedom!
CP: Can you tell us a little about the process of creating your digital art?
OF: I have a very strong imagination. So I have images in my mind and then I work to build a scene for these.
CP: There is a strong element of surrealism in your work—do you see that as a major influence?
OF: Perhaps—perhaps given my Russian background. Perhaps because Belgium is the motherland of surrealism!
CP: Is science fiction also an influence?
OF: I am very conscious of images when watching movies, reading books, or walking on the street. I cannot tell you exactly which movies or books have had the strongest influence. It is a combination of everything. But I am a big admirer of classic directors and writers.
CP: What about all the alligators in your work?
OF: I like to play with them. Consider them something between domestic animals and men. But dangerous.
CP: There is a strange, uneasy sexuality within many of your images. What draws you to those themes?
OF: Subconscious elements no doubt. But these women are my heroes. They are free and face different worlds.
CP: Why do you think there is a rapidly growing intersection between new media art and feminism?
OF: Billions of people have internet access, social media. There are more possibilities to express yourself, also for women. The Pussy Riot performance without video [documentation] had a less emotional impact, for example.
CP: You also make sculptural works. Do you see these as an extension of your digital work, or something different?
OF: I experimented and improvised. I am still learning about sculpture and feel I need more experience. So right now I prefer digital sculpture.
CP: Can you tell us a little about your involvement in the The Wrong – New Digital Art Biennale?
OF: It was a great experience and a very well organized event. Canadian artist Eric Zepka invited me to the group exhibition The New Flesh. Also, David Quiles Guilló invited me to the online project +18, and Bjornus van Der Borght invited me to In De Ruimte in Ghent. All contacts were from Facebook. Social media is the best way to promote art now.
CP: What projects do you have coming up?
We run an online magazine, so of course, we're interested in what's happening with art on the web. We invited online gallerist, founder, and curator of Digital Sweat Gallery, Christian Petersen, to write a bi-monthly column for us. Every other Wednesday he selects a Web Artist of the Week.
(Image at top: Island. All images: Courtesy of Olga Fedorova)