Artist Talks: Katya Ilina On Identity, Expression, And Cryptoart.
The Palm Creator Engagement Program recognizes artists as the foundation of the new creator economy. Rooted in community, the program has, at its core, the goal of elevating and amplifying the brilliant works of artists across the Palm network.
For April’s Palm Creator Engagement Program installment, Palm NFT Studio spotlights Katya Ilina: a photographer and NFT digital artist.
Ilina is a London/Toronto-based artist working at the intersection of portrait, fashion, and observational photography genres. Her works explore themes of identity expression, gender, and the human condition in the context of social and cultural change.
Ilina’s creative practice is heavily informed by her multicultural perspective. While born in Russia, she subsequently spent over a decade moving in between the UK, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, the U.S., and Canada. She is also inspired by convergences and divergences of cultures as she seeks to challenge socially constructed barriers creating divisions between people by highlighting everyday human experiences.
Katya Ilina has exhibited in the UK, Canada, and South Korea, including Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2021, where she received the 3rd prize. Her most recent project, “Rosemary & Thyme”, examines body positivity in masculinity and celebrates the beauty of fluidity in physical form. “Explorations of gender representation can often overlook the complicated masculine body image: being physically/emotionally tough and ‘in control of oneself and life’s circumstances’ still dominates Western ideologies and expectations of ‘real men’,” says Ilina.
“My practice explores the similarities and connections in human stories to highlight closeness and bonds that forge communities. In this series, portraiture is used to question notions of masculine and feminine as a fluid spectrum versus static binaries. Inspired by European traditions of female nude painting which have shaped visual standards of femininity, these photographs adopt and apply gestures from canonical artworks to contemporary male bodies to question the fabrication of gender roles and identities. Portraits are paired with abstract representations of plant life. Plants, especially those with flowers, have complex reproductive morphology and vary between hermaphrodites, gendered and fluid. This juxtaposition extends the opportunity for identity negotiation, further complicating ideas of a ‘gendered species’. The juxtaposition of portraits of humans with still life works of other species from nature provides a commentary on the very notion of what is “natural.” The portraits in Rosemary & Thyme slowly unravel the ways masculinity is coded, socially constructed, and performed throughout this ever-evolving world.
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