Moscow-based photographer Sasha Mademuaselle is no stranger to rave hangouts in her city. What started as a rash fun (taking pics of drunk friends) has actually evolved in a serious occupation. Sasha shared with METAL the importance of inspiration, why she believes analog is better, and how the rave culture in Russia seems to be taking over.
So, tell us, how did it all start? When did you realize photography was your thing?
It’s hard to recover the very beginning of it right now. One thing I remember pretty clearly is begging mom to buy my first reflex camera when I was 15. Truth be told, I wasn’t that good at taking pictures with it. Then, at age 17, I got my first analog camera for 200 RUB from a kiosk in the railway station. I started filming my friends 'cause we used to go to all these parties, and I took shots of them crawling on the floor or showing their breasts after drinking too much alcohol.
Analog or digital? Why so?
Analog, for sure! It’s a perfect tool for those who can’t get their head around all this technical stuff. Like me (laughs).
You work has grown noticeably in the last three or four years. Could you share with us how your vision has been shaped?
Really? I don’t see it that way. Because of my work as photo editor, I am strict and critic about my pictures, and I feel I haven’t filmed anything worthwhile for a long time. But if you see the difference, it’s cool! Maybe the main reason is that, along the years, I've started treating photography as something more serious and now I try to be as concentrated as possible. From the beginning, I've developed my visual language while going through plenty of galleries and portfolios. I would start the day sitting in front of the computer, and then go to sleep at 5am, and all this time I was looking at the work of other photographers on Flickr. And still today I buy a lot of international press, even though here in Russia it’s a hardly affordable luxury. Sometimes it's inspiring as it makes me think, "hey, I could do way better."
So you believe in inspiration, right?
Inspiration is key to me. I do film quite occasionally now, but it must always be something that grabs my attention, something interesting. For instance, I’ve been working backstage for Russian label ZDDZ for two seasons in a row already, they are creating cool rave clothing. I like that at their presentations they never go for the tedious catwalk and all that stuff.
What do you like about the momentum of contemporary rave? What do you think of this culture in general?
If we talk about my series from parties Slaughterhouse, we realize there are actually two rave worlds in Russia: one for kids (Slaughterhouse parties are a great example) where teenagers cosplay Gabber culture without actually being part of it. It’s more like school disco, you know, with all kids dressed in Adidas jackets. The second world is a world of real rave, organized by club Arma. They are truly massive parties, with plenty of people on the dance floor, and they may last for a whole day or even longer. Rave culture in Russia has a decent history and probably it’s the funniest thing happening now in Moscow.
Would you name someone on your national photography scene who’s working in a similar direction?
I teach in a Photography School of Rodchenko and I can see a sense of generation in the upcoming photographers. There is this one girl named Catherine Mammoth, she is exhibiting a series called MOSH at Rodchenko school now.
What do you think about the West's growing interest in post-Soviet culture, music and art scene?
In fact, all the cool kids are terribly annoyed by the prefix "post-Soviet". I would like to think we are interesting for something else than having an emblem of the USSR hanging on the walls of the subway. The generation that are now my models and friends were born in 1999 and 2000, they are more a Putin generation. They have lived under this president for all their lives.
In addition to reportage, you seem to be interested in fashion photography. Which projects or collaborations would you like to do in the future?
A couple of years ago I discovered my love for male fashion photography and since then I've always wanted to do the same. I wish I could do it more often, but unfortunately the economic situation in Russia has forced all alternatives magazined to close, and so there is no one to shoot for.
And finally, please share your favorite photo, or some memories while shooting.
When I shoot, I'm in some kind of special working condition similar to a trance, so I almost don't remember anything and normally don't react to what is happening around. It's a moment of total concentration. Therefore, I can not think of any cool story. But this is my favourite shot. It's a total look by Gosha Rubchinsky. I love it because a guy soldier is just so funny! I call it “Congratulations dear women.”