Interview by Maria Giorgia Lenzi –
Eliška Kyselková’s Team Spirit series made the Centre Fold in issue 7. I caught up with Kyselková to discuss her practice, which explores themes of the body, religion and fashion through her unique photography and creative vision.
Maria Giorgia Lenzi: Tell us a bit about your background, how did you first approach photography?
Eliška Kyselková: My interest in photography started in high school, thanks to a competition. I fell in love with expressing my ideas visually and tangibly. My first few projects involved lots of my classmates being the models.
MGL: When you were starting out, did you experiment with different types of photography or you did formed your distinctive style early on?
EK: I experimented first, I didn’t even think about any personal style at the beginning. I just did what came to my mind, my first projects were about loneliness or decision-making. Even now, I’m trying to lead my work with intuition and playfulness, as that can bring something new and unexpected during the creative process.
MGL: Who do you consider your most important influences?
MGL: Your unique style transcends common definitions and appears to combine fashion, fine art and somehow documentary. How do you describe your work?
EK: My main focus is to bring some message or feeling to the viewers of my photographs, and translate this message to a visual representation. I decided to divide my work in 3 categories, which will be part of my layout in the new website: playful, epic and paying bills. The first category involves the photographs with the creative approach to body, where body becomes a shape or structure. The epic category is focused on projects involving fashion element and revolves around mystery. The photographs here are visually rich, flamboyant and epic. The last category is focused on commissioned projects for fashion brands and designers, so the photographs are tend to be more graphic and simple, to showcase the product.
MGL: Your work explores various themes including gender issues, consumerism and environmental questions. How do you find inspiration for your ideas?
EK: All my ideas come from personal experience. I look around myself for inspiration, look at documentaries and read reportage articles. I’m also very inspired by other forms of art, such as painting or dance, which both feed into my practice.
MGL: It seems like religious atmospheres are often present in your work, like in your series’ Paradiso, Purgatorio, Sinner and Messiah. What is it that draws you to the subject?
EK: This comes from my Catholic religion and my interest in the ‘life after’. I’m inspired by the relationship between the human, his actions, and this affect in the future.
MGL: Your photographs seem to have a very specific narrative behind them, the subjects look like they belong to a story or a performance. To achieve this, how much do you plan and how much do you follow your instinct while shooting?
EK: I like to plan and be ready on the day, which always gives me time to experiment and improvise. I usually research, as well as creating sketches and mood boards before the day, so all my team know the plan when we come to shoot. Then I try to follow my instincts and work with the models on set, pushing them to express the feelings through the movement of their body.
MGL: In your projects, you have worked not only with make-up artists and hairstylists, but also with painters and designers. Has that changed your photographic practice and if so how?
EK: I think it’s important to connect with other artists, as it can bring new perspectives to the final piece. I admire other artist’s work and it’s great to see their approach to a theme.
MGL: If you had to choose a career different from photography, what would you have seen yourself as?
EK: It’s hard to imagine doing anything else! But I think that it would be something creative again. I still plan to experiment with moving image projects, and make some short movie or music video clips. Before photography, I was also thinking about journalism and I enjoy acting.
MGL: What are your future plans and goals?
EK: My goal is to keep challenging the medium of photography and create new projects. I would like to move into the world of fine art photography to exhibit and sell my work at major galleries. My dream is also to work with print magazines such as Vogue Italia, Love or i-D.