The Weight of Preconceptions and Prejudices with Elena Soroka

The Weight of Preconceptions and Prejudices with Elena Soroka

April 23, 2021

The object of my research is the criteria by which a woman compares herself with others. In my work, I reflect on the relativity of such patterns of consciousness, following which the woman accepts the roles imposed on her and agrees with the proposed assessment of her personal value. My statement accumulates my individual experience, this is the story of my search for my identity.


Under the weight of preconceptions and prejudices, a woman dissolves in her encirclement. But I believe that we are not entitled to give away our values ​to the mercy of someone else's established opinion. I suggest that women make themselves the object of their own experiential scrutiny. With the help of my creativity, I am focusing the thought of women to the awareness of a burden of social responsibility that stereotyped thinking of the society is placing on them. My goal is to make women to decide what their life should be like. A decision that is free of publicly accepted stereotypes and imposed opinions.

What initially drew you towards becoming an artist?

I came to art at a mature age. Behind was a technical profession, a lot of experience in it and certain achievements. Now I already understand how interesting this turned out to be. But at the very beginning I was worried that my path was not the same as that of most artists. If I have not spent my younger years on countless studies in the studio, do I have the right to call myself an artist? After all, I have not gone entirely the path prescribed by the academic tradition. To resolve this internal contradiction, I had to get a second higher education, this time in art.


Art always reflects the experience, thoughts, personality of the author. When a child comes to art school, he is like a blank sheet of paper. He can take a lot from the world, but he has nothing to give. A teenager can be taught a craft, supplied him with techniques, and given knowledge about the history of art. But the personal evolution of an artist as a person takes much longer than it takes to absorb school knowledge. Therefore, it seems to me that the situation is especially interesting when an artist comes to art, having already realized his own identity. After all, art is always a reflection of the artist's personality. And the more texture to reflect, the more interesting it is for the viewer to dive into the author's work.

 What are you working on at the moment?

I consider my creative work to be intellectual, because I do not try to pull the viewer for naked emotions, I do not try to manipulate his feelings. It seems to me that the surrounding world is already unnecessarily disturbing. Therefore, I do not want to speculate on emotions in order to draw attention to my work. My work is philosophy. Reasoning about a person, about her place in this world. About the interaction of individuals, about cooperation, compromise or confrontation. I visualize thought, not feelings.


Now the topic that worries me is the self-awareness of a woman. Historically, a very great responsibility has been placed on women. She is told that she owes everyone, that she has no right to her own desires and needs, that she only has a duty: the fate of the world is in her hands, because a woman gives birth to children and thereby ensures the continuity of history. A woman owes everything to the world, but the world owes nothing to a woman, because it is her duty. This ideology leads to abuse and domestic exploitation of women. The situation is difficult to change as long as women themselves believe in it.

As an artist, I see my goal as precisely to have a conversation with women about their right to self-determination. Now they do not know this, being under the pressure of patriarchal propaganda. Traditionally, feminism speaks of equal rights for men and women. I go further - I talk about equal responsibility for men and women.


In my work, I introduced the concept of "social glitch". I am talking about the feminist movement in Russia, which from the point of view of the patriarchal system is a glitch, a bug. Just as glitch-art is opposed to the ideal transmission of an image in digital culture, so "social glitch" is a mismatch with the expected image in a patriarchal society. "Social glitch" - as self-expression through violation of programmed standing orders. "Glitch" is translated as "error, bug". Glitch-art is a digital error raised to the rank of art. I used this analogy to call my project "Art of Bug".

When it comes to creating your work, do you have a preferred medium, certain types of brushes or tools you love to use?

Most of the time I work with oil. This is the most rewarding, responsive and tactile medium. But I have a passion - I am easily addicted to new things. When I see some unusual techniques from other artists, I instantly light up, I do want to try to apply this in my work. There is so much diversity in the world that I have to restrain myself with an effort of will, so as not to get distracted and to focus on my own specific current task. It’s not always easy, so I’ve got a kick out of greedily buying up new materials and stockpiling them. I jokingly call my workshop a branch of an art store. In the firm belief that someday it will be useful to me. Sooner or later it happens. At some point, a final idea is formed in my head, it pops up in my mind almost ready, and I understand that this is it, some medium or technique has waited for its time. I can finally use this.


For example, I once educated in an airbrushing studio, and after I never used much of what I learned there. But the knowledge of the materials and experience with them remained, which at some point allowed me to apply these skills in completely different areas. I like this approach, it's like collaborating with my own subconscious. For years, I threw ideas and techniques at it so that at the right time a new idea would shoot out in my head.

At the art institute, I studied academic drawing. Now I use the analogue of the pencil technique in my recent works. I pick up the textured and tinted surface of the canvas to gradually build the desired tone with a dry brush that I use like a pencil.

Could you describe the process behind your art? How do you get from concept to execution?

I use two principles in my work. The first principle is cyclicality. Energetic moments of activity are replaced by intervals of complete inactivity, almost apathy. I used to think of it as procrastination, and I tried to somehow fight it. But now I understand that this is a natural workflow. The brain collects a certain amount of information and aims, and goes into retreat in order to process and digest it. And then it comes back with a new idea. This process is not like an ordinary job, when you laboriously sit for hours and thoughtfully try to hack a problem. This is a way when the decision comes by itself, from the subconscious.


The second method I call "just start". Even if I have no idea what to do, and I look anxiously at the white canvas (we all know this state!), I just try to turn off this feeling of anxiety and start doing at least something. Without trying to immediately give out a specific result of the required quality. In this process, the brain gradually tunes in to work, calms down, throws up some ideas, tries new options and is drawn into the work process so that it forgets about eating breaks. These are two very different approaches, and their combination in the workflow provides the wanted level of motivation, creativity and involvement.

What advice would you give to a young aspiring artist currently studying art?

Don't waste energy trying to "find yourself". To search for yourself, you first need to become someone. I would advise a young artist to work very hard, to grab any idea that ignites. Without thinking about how useful it will be. Curiosity is the best criterion for usefulness. Just work continuously. And then "yourself" will find you.


Is there a fellow artist alive today that you admire? If so, why?

Among artists alive today, I truly admire Yayoi Kusama. For me, this is an example of both creativity, purposefulness and steel will.

There were many events in the life of this artist that could break most people. Not to mention the fact that she went through her whole life with a mental illness that made her suffer severely. Kusama not only was not broken, but she was able to transform her illness into creative energy. Sometimes I think that if I had so many trials, my energy would only be enough to lie in bed all day, wrapped in a blanket. I strongly doubt that I would have found the strength to be as productive as Yayoi.

Many people see artists as storytellers or advocates for a cause, do you believe that it is an artist’s responsibility to shine a light on a particular subject / theme, or do you create purely for the sake of expression your creative nature?

Contemporary art cannot exist outside of any idea. Art has ceased to be a simple depiction of the visible world. How it gradually ceased to be a set of symbols, a pure emotion or an experiment. Art has become an idea by nature. Looking at an art object, the viewer will either find this topic in himself, or ask the author: "What is your work about, what did you want to tell people?"


But the question remains whether the artist should express topical ideas and react to what is happening directly at the moment. No, she shouldn't. This reaction turns the artist into a journalist. At best, into a reporter, at worst, into a yellow press journalist. Operational processing of hot world news becomes a neurotic product of one's own psyche, but not art.

I like the way Marina Abramovic put it in an interview with The Art Newspaper: "It is very dangerous for an artist when news and events happening right now affect his work and way of thinking. You lose the opportunity to be a visionary."

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