Vagus Magazine Summer 2021 Feature Story
Alisa Karin is a film student, photographer, and creative director who has an affinity for water.
She accentuates the structure of the body through her use of extreme close-ups.
How long have you had an interest in the arts?
Probably since birth. My mom said she would play me classical music while she was still pregnant. I grew up in an environment full of artists. Me and my sister would make our small concerts, dancing to Vivaldi. I honestly can’t imagine my life without art.
Analyzing some of your work, there appears to be a focus on lips. What do lips symbolize for you?
Lips are like the gates of hell or heaven. They could be the sweetest, pure thing. Or the most evil of them all. I want to show that besides eyes, lips can show a lot of emotions too.
Other images from your work include hands either via shadow, in gloves, or submersed in water/liquids. What is the significance of showing extreme-close-ups of hands in this context?
Maybe it’s my deep love for the sea and these endless waters. I live far away from it and I miss it with my whole body. I miss the touch of water, the coldness, the weightlessness.
For your non-spontaneous work, walk us through a typical shoot day from planning/preparation, to capturing the moment, to post-production touches:
I have had very few experiences like that, but I like to go early. Always. If I am late I get very anxious. I need to drink my coffee and smoke my cigarette before the day starts. I prepare the day before with all my equipment. I don't know why but I check if the card is in my camera at least 10 times. As for capturing the moment, I may have some ideas that I thought of pre-shooting, but most of the time they come while I work. And finally when I get home I am so excited to open photoshop and play for hours.
Which school/institution do you study at and why did you choose it? How has your experience there been so far?
I am at New Bulgarian University. I had some friends who were into film art and it sounded very interesting to me. I have to say I am not the best student, but I try my best to stay present.
Have you done other creative/artistic things prior to formally studying it at school?
I started playing the piano when I was 8 years old. I would sing in a choir alongside my parents. I wrote my own fairy tales and stories. I also tried doing ballet. I was in a french theatre group for 3 years, where we would go to theatre festivals. After that, I got into a non-professional theatre school and now I am here.
What are your thoughts about eye contact, both prolonged and brief?
God, eye contact...One of the most powerful weapons on Earth. You could connect to the soul of a person within seconds. You could say so many things by just looking at someone, that in most cases you don’t need any words. I’ve had the most exciting prolonged eye contacts, but the most heartbreaking brief ones.
Why do you choose to capture extreme-close-up shots?
Life would be so boring without the details. I like to capture hidden messages, show things that we see everyday, but don’t really pay attention to them.
Do you feel your work is a reflection of yourself or life experiences?
Absolutely. I aim to show the world as I see it. Emotions are deeply personal and I hope everybody could feel something different through every image.
Out of all the elements, which is your favourite? Looking at your portfolio, one may assume it’s water, as many of your images include liquids.
I may say water, yes. There is something about it that always fascinated me. It represents life. I find it very similar to shooting water and women. No matter what conditions you put them under, they always look miraculous. Both as pure and majestic. Both as powerful as a god. Both can kill you easily but can’t live without them.
Suppose we are in an apocalyptic world and water is a limited resource. How would the absence of water impact your work?
We are in an apocalyptic world and I will be able to make art? CRAZY! And exciting.
Would you still want to create art during an apocalypse?
Between the time I’m killing zombies and running away from aliens? Maybe.
You’ve been creating art in this manner for a few years now. As you receive more recognition for your work, is there anything that you’re proud to have accomplished?
I actually started taking it more seriously at the end of summer 2020. Before that I just liked to take random pictures and make a nice feed. The quarantine did something to me. I isolated myself and started creating things everyday. I am proud of myself for not quitting and slowly improving as I shoot and edit.
Seeing as you use your personal Instagram account to show your artwork as opposed to a separate business or creative account, how do you balance your personal image with the work you create? Do you aim to separate the two or do you prefer to just weave them together?
I like them to be together. Because this is me. This is my work and it’s still me. I show my life through my work. People nowadays tend to be very serious and closed. I don’t know why. We have one life. I might as well live it the way I want to and not the way I am supposed to.
In the process of creating work, what have you learned about yourself?
That doubting and comparing myself is the worst thing I can do.
You can view more of Alisa's work on her Instagram profile!
This interview was originally published in Issue 2 of Vagus Magazine: Transient Illusions (June 2021).