The word “whimsical” might be one of those highly specific but terribly overused terms floating in today’s writing, so much that it might have lost its nuances on the way after playing a secondary part in endless definitions of vague, inconsistent and sadly often meaningless work. But there are some occasions –rare occasions– where such a word is still precise enough to be used. Trying to define Posternaks work without using it might not be a fair idea. It is one of the words that first comes to mind, and even if the spirit of these two sisters seems to follow a playful, young and expect-the-unexpected instinct, there is a dreamy, airy coherence and, let’s say it, whimsical touch to their pictures that puts everything together. Welcome to the imagery of sisterhood: it might be abstract, hard to grasp, one of the hardest human links to put down in words, but their photographic work clearly conveys the connection of two souls who grew up together, hand in hand – camera in hand. May we introduce you Tanya and Zhenya Posternak.
You’re siblings. It is said it is hard to tell you two apart. What do you think is your biggest difference?
Zhenya: The older we get, the easier it becomes. Tanya's character is dramatically different from mine. I'm way too careful sometimes and she's too careless most of the time.
Tanya: It's all about the way we walk, talk and make things happen.
What did you fight about the most when you were little kids?
Tanya: Toys?
Zhenya: Silly stuff like sharing a favorite pair of socks or Japanese marker.
Tell us about the place where you were born and grew up. How has that place influenced your work?
Zhenya: Kiev, Ukraine. Post-soviet surroundings limited our knowledge and culture in a way. But on the other hand it made us be more curious and less content. It still surprises me that the less people are given, the more curious they become. Sadly, it's usually another way around.
Tanya: Being born and raised in Kiev, Ukraine, we've only experienced a bit of Soviet, but the mentality is definitely still there, even after all the dramatic democratic changes. No pathos, but NYC feels like home now – we are also very lucky to have a soviet perspective which works as a special form of prism.
If I am not mistaken, you both completed your education in fine arts. To what extent has your education affected your approach to photography?
Tanya: It was a classic art school with long hours of sketching, oil painting, typography and sculpture. It definitely didn’t teach us to see, but helped us understand more about composition and colors.
Zhenya: We both studied graphic design. It taught us a lot about color combinations and composition. But frankly, I'm still cynical about the Ukrainian educational system.
Was there any turning point when you decided to pursue a career as a photographer duo?
Moving to New York City was a big move. It was love at first sight, and thanks God it's mutual still!
If you had to choose just one picture to introduce your work to someone who doesn’t know it yet, which one would you pick, and why?
Zhenya: This one. Hard to tell, but it’s something that we try to follow in our work – a whimsical story, and some sort of visual inconsistency.
Tanya: This one, because it is static and dynamic at the same time.
What do you try to capture in your photographs?
Tanya: A movement: an eye blink or a hand, or move of the heart.
Zhenya: Emotion, beauty, and imperfection.
What do you think influences your work in a more positive way, your differences or your similarities?
It's definitely beneficial to see the frame from two angles. However, it doubles the film rolls' expense.
What are you working on at the moment?
Zhenya: Series of portraits and putting together a little concept for an exhibition.
Tanya: Just finished working for a very interesting collaborative art project in London. Cannot share the details but it combined words and visuals, two of our favorite things.
Are you working in any other artistic field other than photography?
I do some occasional writings and Tanya sketches and paints. She occasionally posts her sketches on her Instagram.
What’s the work you’re the most proud of so far?
Street posters for Mansur Gavriel.
How do you approach the balance between your own art and storytelling with commercial purposes?
Our own work is very intuitive. Commercial projects make you think twice before pressing that button.
Analogue or digital?
Tanya: Analogue. Will skip the long sermons, but the difference is obvious!
Zhenya: Analogue. I'm naively convinced that digital makes every human being appear flat. Perhaps I just suffer with settings.
Tell us the hardest critique on your work that your mum (or any other close relative/person) has ever told you.
Tanya: My close friend from Denmark once wrote me a very furious email that almost reads like a haiku (a long one):
break out.
yellow is wonderful.
but there are more colors on your palette.
Zhenya: Mom and hard critique is a non-existing combo. I recall my friend saying I'm cropping too much.
If you could photographer any person from any time, from any location, who would that be?
Tanya: Kennedy and Jeff Buckley.
Zhenya: King Krule.
Name a reference, an influence and an idol.
Idolatry is a sin. But we both are in love with Edward Weston, Lina Scheynyus and Jamie Hawkesworth.