Tania Leshkina is an 18-(18!)-year-old photographer, artist, and student who lives in Moscow, which to us is like living on Mars. We discovered her work recently and, like, wow. Martians are talented!
Vice: Hi, how are you?
I’m tired, tired, tired. I’ve been trying to finish my diploma plus doing some personal projects. So I’ll be spending the whole week doing shoots.
So you’re studying? Is it an art school?
Yep. I’m in my third year of college studying photography, but it’s not the same as a BA. I’ve only just turned 18. In my college, they think I can’t shoot. They are people born in the Soviet times. All the professors are old and can’t understand what I’m doing.
Can I ask you where you get your inspirations?
Experience! I started shooting and expressing myself before I was diagnosed with epilepsy. I don’t know. Depression. Medications and hospitals and a really hard time. Isolation! I’m in love with every day. Really.
Maybe you should drop out of college and just work.
If I do drop out of college, I’ll go live in the mountains and check my email very rarely.
When and how did you start taking pictures?
I was in the hospital and my parents brought me a camera.
How are you feeling now?
I don’t know. I’m not sure that I’m ill. I’ve been taking pills every day since I was 13. I keep changing medications—it started with carbamazepine, like Ian Curtis. But anyway, I started shooting myself and the other wardmates when I was 14.
Most of your photos—all of my favorite ones, to be honest—are shot inside in your bedroom. Why is that? Is it because Russia is cold and people can’t really go out without freezing?
It’s not cold so much as it’s gray. No sunlight, and I’m a white maniac. You’ve probably noticed, I think. I hate the winter in Moscow, and I love to spend it in other places. It’s not freezing but it’s a spinning feeling like it will never end. Also it gets dark so early and you see the sun in very small doses. I was born in Khabarovsk and during the winter they have lots of snow. My mom used to take my brother and me to painting classes through all of this. I want to thank my daddy since next winter I’ll be in London. In September, I’ll start studying sculpture at the Wimbledon College of Art.
Did you ever wonder why you take so many photos of yourself?
I’ve thought a lot about why self-portraits are my main thing. With every picture you try to recognize yourself, to understand that you’re still here. You know, some people don’t trust mirrors. Sometimes I shoot friends, but that’s also like a self-portrait. But I’m not obsessed with myself. Girls always shoot themselves.