The month SYNCHRODOGS spent on the road in the U.S. for their Supernatural series was an eventful one. During its course, the Ukrainian duo shot the entirety of their newest body of work, which is to be shown at Dallas Contemporary beginning September 19th. Between—and during—this effort, the pair also experienced all the unanticipated delights of a successful Southwest roadtrip: that time they “nearly died in a hot desert,” for instance; or when they “nearly died in canyon full of snakes.”
For those familiar with SYNCHRODOGS' style, this series seems like a natural progression. The bulk of the work features portraits of Tania Shcheglova (one-half of the team) shot by Roman Noven (the other half), photos as raw in appearance as content. These images are replete with the artists’ mysticism, as exhibited before through such collections as Animalism, Naturalism or synchrodogs.
Unlike these previous endeavors, however, Supernatural is supremely site-specific. The backdrops exude that arid aura of Romanticism so unique to the deserts of Arizona, or the red rocks of New Mexico. Shcheglova's costuming and body paint does much the same, only with added theatricality. Just look at her sparkle!
And then, there are those photographs which are included in the collection as if by happenstance—an impossibility when it comes to self-pronounced perfectionists Shcheglova and Noven. So, I caught up with the artists after their road trip to talk about these wildcards, nudity and nature, and the fruitlessness in “decoding” their creative composition.
The Creators Project: To start off, tell me about this new collection of work.
SYNCHRODOGS: The Supernatural project is a neverending self-exploration of two artists in the context of the unknown. Aiming to depart from what is usual or normal, it deals with intuition, the subconscious, natural phenomena, and some human essence which is unable to be explained by science. For this project we used our own constructed images as a vehicle for questioning the border between both the evident and the elusive and between right and wrong. Using intuition as a way of acquiring knowledge without the use of a reason, we uncovered edges of our own subconscious.
What was it like to create the show in a single month?
To tell the truth it’s more a question of 'What was it like to create the show in a single year?' It took us a lot of time to create the ideas, work on props, go on a 6500km [4039mi] trip across America, and finally prepare the whole thing to be ready for printing. We don’t even remember ourselves not being busy with this project. Every time we come up with something new we absolutely devote ourselves to our body of work. (What a curse is to be a perfectionist.)
What were your favorite locations to shoot during your road trip around the U.S.?
Our favorite place is not the one we were shooting at, it is the one we came across on our way back through Colorado when a huge rain with snow started and we found our car moving through high frozen water like an icebreaker. A lightning bolt hit the ground right in front of our car and it was incredibly scary but we kept on moving and the rain stopped as we passed that black cloudy piece of nowhere and we saw the widest rainbow we've ever seen. We were fascinated and turned our heads to the right and saw a capricorn—a wonderful white glossy horse. Maybe it was his ear put into some awkward position, or maybe some light reflection, but it looked like we were in Barbieland for a moment.
Why did you remain consistent with your established M.O.'s of portraiture and nudity for this show?
The project strives to convey our personal, insightful, sublime experience caused by the natural environment, erasing a line between the real and the imagined—that is the main goal. Nudity is preconditioned by nature, it is a part of us, therefore it is a part of our art as well; however, the focus in this new project definitely shifted to theme of 'supernatural' insofar as is not subject to the laws of physics or, more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature. To some extent it is something that is hardly influenced by any regulations nor does it go in line with generally accepted rules of logic.
Conversely, what stylistic changes or adaptations did you make/have to make for this collection?
Describing pictures makes it less interesting for the viewer to see them. Would Mona Lisa still be a mystery if da Vinci had told an interviewer 'There was a girl in front of me, I told a slight joke and she smiled.. '?
Walk me through the composition of one or two of your favorite new photographs.
Everything is straight—just as we see the World.
You’ve mentioned that your photos are about self-discovery. What did you discover here?
Most of all we rediscovered our own capacities and energy limits, the way a human can walk into darkness, go straight into unexplored, relying on intuition, go where subconscious leads, and feel safe in the World of the unknown.
Finally, what’s next?
Our solo show opening in Dallas Contemporary Museum of Art on the 19th of September, we will be there and would be happy to see all of you.
Find more of SYNCHRODOGS' spectacular works on their website.