Encounters with Eliska Kyselková
Author: Salwa Benaissa
Encounters is a photographic and video project shot on analogue film that blends fashion, fine art and dance into a single visual composition. As a mainly photographic series, some of the ongoing multi-disciplinary project has already been featured in Dazed magazine earlier this year.
“I would call it an explosion and creation of the pure joy of movement and diversity. It’s an encounter of different types of art,” explains Eliška Kyselková, the artist behind of the project. “The initial idea was to invite various painters and illustrators who usually work on 2D canvases, and recreate some of their works on a human body.”
The project honors the Edvard Munch quote: “Colors live a remarkable life of their own after they have been applied to the canvas.” In the case of Encounters, the canvas of the human body is what injects the colors with immediate motion. Eliška continues to work with the concept, forging a focus on diversity and the female physical form.
As a multi-disciplined artist herself, Eliška’s creative process sprawls across many elements. Once her vision for Encounters was developed, she began creating sketches in preparation as she set on a month-long search to cast diverse bodies and faces who would appear in the project. On-set, she focused her energy on art direction and photography, with support of a cameraman at hand.
“I usually do a lot more planning and sketching beforehand, but for this project I left it a bit more open to experimentation and going with the flow. This was challenging for me because this time it was more about capturing natural movement, and not so controlled.”
To facilitate the movement required for the piece, Eliška cast mainly dancers and performers. Rather than opting for professional models, she concentrated also on identifying fitting personalities.
“It’s important that the model has the same soul of the project, and feels some excitement towards it,” she tells of her casting process. “Most of the models were naked, so I also had to make sure they were okay with combining their bodies. But it was quite a funny experience – the mood of the shoot and the atmosphere was really great. People really enjoyed it.”
The making of the Encounters video was itself an encounter between two distant lands, with one part of the video filmed in a twelve-hour session in a London studio, and the other in Eliška’s hometown of Brno, Czech Republic. This directly reflects Eliška’s own dispersed lifestyle, as she herself continues to keep one foot in a different country, living between London, Brno and, increasingly, Prague over the past three years, working as a full-time photographer.
“I can’t leave London because I just love it so much and its creativity and the people; it’s great for my work. In Brno, I have my family and my boyfriend,” she remarks. “There is definitely a creative energy in Czech Republic as well, but I don’t have many connections there yet.”
Still, Eliška is looking forward to expanding her works in both countries. Two of her upcoming projects include an editorial collaboration with hairstyle-themed magazine InFringe in London, and a shoot for Czech designer jewellery designer [name?] in Prague. Beyond blending cultures, Eliška’s creativity is driven one on hand by current social issues such as ecology and abundant consumerism, while also pointing a mocking finger at fashion photography standards through its own medium.
“I don’t just want to photograph a woman in clothes,” she says of her ambition. “Storytelling is important. I’m bored by fashion editorials where there’s not much going on. For me, it’s not enough to say, ‘Oh there’s a woman on the shore in clothes, and there’s a woman on the street.’ I think it’s good when there’s a message, even if the message is just emotion or diversity.”
Full credits: Photography and art direction Eliška Kyselková, styling Camielle Marchand, make up Lauren Reynolds, hair art Michael Moon, painters & illustrators Katrine Roberts, Beth Eloise Fraser, Emily Howard, Moon, Tingting, Michaela Dvorakova, fashion designers Beth Postle, Krystyna Kozhoma, Caterina Schmitt, Jemma Beech, Nicola Brindle, models, dancers & performers Moon, Devin Hentz, Emily Marthick, Lydia Chan, Ray Choy, Lauren Reynolds, Alice Pins, Emma Farnell-Watson Magdalena Pacova, Argiel Del Mundo, Camille Marchand, photography assistant: Argiel Del Mundo, styling assistant Gianluca Piro