Anna Fedotova, photographer and co-author of the performance

turquoise ether magazine10/05/23 09:55423

Author: Jenya Stashkov, artist and art critic

Theatrical photography has come a long way in its development. At first, theatrical photography served the purposes of documentation and marketing, but now theatrical photography is an important, full-fledged, and multifunctional genre of contemporary art. Contemporary theatrical photography can perform various functions: expanding the space of a performance, creating a full-fledged symbolic narrative parallel to the performance, capturing meta-mise en scène, fixing by-products of theatrical production, creating a new mythology of space, and so on. A contemporary theatre photographer is a terra incognita, a field of freedom, and a space for self-invention, a position that allows you to combine utilitarian intra-collective tasks with tasks of pure art. The most interesting contemporary theatre photographers carefully invent and think over their role, aesthetic strategy, and artistic language.

Anna Fedotova is an excellent example of a unique and outstanding contemporary theatre photographer. She has been working professionally with many leading international theatre groups for many years. Anna“s style can be described as monochrome, chamber, compositionally verified, multi-detailed, and narrative-oriented. Anna Fedotova”s theatrical photographs are both documentary and artistic; they carry both the stamp of “big style” and good-natured irony over the pathos, lack of independence, and clumsiness of typical theatrical photography of the XX century. The photographer achieves a paradoxical effect with his works when shooting non-stage spaces, endowing these spaces with the qualities of a stage work.

The stage, as the mythological centre of a traditional theatre building, extends to dressing rooms, seats in the auditorium, and theatre corridors. The photographer seems to expand the space of the stage myth by including side stories in the myth of a separate theatre, which a typical theatrical production is unable to notice in itself. The most important theme of Anna“s photographs is the difference in scale between people and the spaces in which they find themselves. Bright and energetic people seem either small or gigantic against the background of the interiors of century-old theatres. On the one hand, it is an autopsy of the mechanisms of the repressive inscribing of bodies into the imperious affects of totalitarian architecture; on the other hand, it is a touching message that people are able to inhabit and spiritualize absolutely any space. It seems to me that if Anna Fedotova worked in some fantastic genre of contemporary art, she would definitely settle her heroes on the surface of the sun or inside the core of the Earth. This is a very important and responsible message from the humanist artist. At the same time, Anna Fedotova”s photos are absolutely not boring; they are very cleverly arranged in composition and do not let you take your eyes off yourself.

These photos work perfectly as a resource for publications on social networks, as units of a theatrical archive or office work, as works of modern gallery art, and as a very important part of the process of creating a new performance. The process of creating a new performance is always a collective effort (with rare exceptions). And, as a rule, in this process, all functions and roles are prescribed in advance. Usually, the main producers of visuals in the theatre are production artists and production directors. But Anna Fedotova was able to overcome this centuries-old production convention and become a visual co-author of performances in the theatres in which she works. She takes on the functions of fixing and creating additional layers of scenic reality, expands the space of interpretation, and thereby makes performances more multifaceted and more human.


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