Hidden layers

Evelyn Bencicova (born in Bratislava, 1992) is a creative specializing in photography and art direction. Her practice combines academic research with an interest in contemporary culture and creates a unique aesthetic space in which the conceptual meets the visual. Evelyn’s work is never quite what it first appears to be; she constructs compelling narrative scenarios that blur the lines between reality, memory, and imagination — “fictions based on truth”.

 

Employing multifaceted symbolic representations as illusions, Evelyn plays with the viewer’s perception to entice them into the secret labyrinth of her imagination. Her disturbingly beautiful visual language and washed-out color palette, set within curiously symbolic environments allow for a deep exploration of the themes that take her images far beyond what they reveal at first glance.

Can you tell me a bit about the idea behind the series Asymptote?

 

Asymptote merges past and present into a unified visual form connecting photography, video, and sound. The project is composed of scenes set in the period of socialism, yet interpreted in a digital language through the eyes of three young creatives: me (photography), Adam Csoka Keller (video) and Arielle Esther (sound).

 

Asymptote uses architectonic sites that are authentic to the era of socialism. At the basis of the project lies a historical foundation that collaborates with a fictional scenario to blur the lines between reality and memory. All body form in the project is folded within the space to shape a coherent geometrical composition, a symbol of the regime itself.

 

People create a pattern. They become part of the overall composition: the architecture and the society. Each person is stripped off their own individuality to become a unified form, creating an absurd platform where every difference is an anomaly.

 

Through completing this project we try to come closer to the topic of socialism and lead a dialogue with people who experienced this era of our national history themselves. Asymptote portrays a contact between collective feelings and testimonials interpreted by today’s young generation represented by the authors. The goal is not only to reflect on the past, but most importantly to address the current state of society and its values.

How is usually your process from idea to execution?

 

The process is usually quite long and complex. It starts as an idea, main interests which drives us throughout the whole process. This drive, almost an obsession leads us like the light in the dark. What you find on the way to your goal, is what matters. Choosing the project also means directing your interest as research and preproduction is always the most important part of our work.

 

Asymptote started with our visual fascination of the socialist era in post-soviet countries, which we, being born after the fall of socialism never experienced. We were aware that the aesthetics are just the surface, hiding different truths, and the desire to explore it ourselves was persistent.

 

Asymptote was mostly about conversation with people who experienced the era from different perspectives. The diversity of people and their opinions was crucial. We spoke to our parents, grandparents but also absolute strangers – who often became friends. Ranging from journalists, designers, people who controlled the system to “blue-collar” workers (proletariat) we were trying to cover a wide range of society and get a general view of the topic, different than by reading a school-book.

 

The scenes were all shot in architecture created in the Socialist era, many of them out of use, forgotten far beyond their time of glory. These buildings still stand here as absurd monuments, designed for masses but now empty and overlooked by nations in the fear of past. Clothes were collected from television archive and second-hand stores following an idea of anti-fashion- uniformity.

While reinterpreting the scenes of spartakiad (sport events the Soviet Union launched to create competition towards the Olympics), education or surveillance, we did not try to create documentation, but our own vision – surrealistic, even absurd leaving the legacy of past but through the eyes of our generation.

A lot of your images have an undertone of mystery and wonder – what draws you to this type of storytelling?

 

I'm myself a quite curious person who always “believes in more”. I would even say that the capturing is secondary, and it comes only after getting to know, getting close to someone or something.

 

In projects, I always take the position of a student or explorer. I listen and observe, I ask a lot of questions before I’m able to come up with answer or interpretations. Curiosity is a key to knowledge, and knowledge leads to wisdom.

 

On the other hand, I don't like to tell the story from the beginning to the end. I believe that when you are looking at the picture, it should not be a picture of me but yourself. I want to address, to give clues, to dig deeper, to question and to leave the viewer to find their own interpretation without strict directions. I feel like you get a stronger message if you find it yourself.

Underneath you can see an extract from some of her other series: