Fedora Akimova

studio visit

28 December, 2020

For artists, having their own space to create new works is a great joy and an attraction for non-artists like us. Fedora Akimova talks about the main aspects of her work, new themes for understanding the modern world, and a manifesto as a long list of questions.


I have been drawing since I was a child, so when my parents sent me to art school, I didn't resist. Before turning 21, I painted with watercolor and studied printmaking in Kyiv (where I was born). Kyiv is a very emotional city, and it was easy for me to embrace both a love for classic art with internationally renowned names at the Pinchuk Art Center and more controversial topics.

I moved to Saint Petersburg in 2011, where I studied to be a theatrical artist at the Repin Art Academy (I even spent some time working in theaters). Now I would like to change my field of work and do something in theater, but for now, I am deeply immersed in art and objects. I have always been inspired by common themes rather than social or political ones, which are important to me but rarely become the focus of my work. When I started painting landscapes, it was more about existential themes like accepting death or consciousness. These themes eventually moved to the background, and now I am interested in evolution, anthropology, and archaeology, and how humankind can survive as a species under current ecological and social conditions.

Life in all its forms has the greatest impact on my creative process: my own experiences, people, travels, reading the news in the morning, playing with kids.


If a theme interests me, I let it flow through me and sometimes am surprised by how it appears in my work. I don't consciously articulate the problem I am addressing in advance; it is more of an intuitive process that starts with my hands. I am also not the type of artist who can directly express current problems in my work. I always feel strong emotions about political or social themes, but they do not reflect in my artworks.

For example, overproduction and overconsumption, as well as common ecological issues, depress me. I no longer buy anything from stores, I use Craigslist instead, and it makes me feel calmer. Sometimes something will catch my attention, even if it has been sitting around me for a long time. This happened with Soviet holiday crystalware. We rented an apartment with a lot of old 80s stuff, and the crystal was there, so it ended up in the series of objects called "Tatiana", with bottomless cutlery items wrapped in embroidered fabric.


Last year I was excited by small objects, a kind of tiny form of architecture. Maybe it's because it's a chance to take a break from the large landscapes I paint. In addition, during my six years at the Academy, I used to create theatrical maquettes in addition to many other things. It was a kind of microworld with its own proportions, colors, and architecture. These experiences are now reflected in my series of "Antiantrop" objects in a peculiar way. They are usually gradually constructed from random items (it could be toys, wooden cutlery, literally anything) that eventually becomes a solid pseudo-architectural form.

For 2021, I plan to hold two exhibitions that were delayed due to recent prohibitions on galleries and museums exhibitions. While I don't make specific plans, I have a direction for my professional activity, and I am always open to proposals and suggestions. I think the start of the pandemic has turned our plans into wishes. There is a strong uncertainty about the future, and we are more dependent on external factors than ever. In my plans for 2020, I had a two-month trip abroad, which now exists as a wish for 2021 or some other year.


Around age 23, I stopped reading books because they took up all my free time and replaced my real life. For the past 10 years, I have only read some theatrical plays (due to my job/study) and have switched to listening to books instead of reading them. In the past few months, I have been listening to anthropology lectures by Stanislav Drobyshevsky and paleontology and archeology lectures on YouTube. About four years ago, I discovered Dmitry Khaustov's modern philosophy lectures, and I think his last series of eight "Dark theories" tapes was the most important thing for me to help me through the spring lockdown.


After 10 years living in the stone city of Petersburg, I find the place where I live now in Moscow to be the best for me. It is near the massive Izmailovsky forest, and I have an infinite forest view from my window, and in 40 minutes I can get to the city center. I can spend weeks without leaving my neighborhood. I am a low-movement person, although I have managed to move between four cities.


I work in a pass-through room in the apartment we rent for living. I like that the apartment doesn't have a fancy look and there's no need to worry about messing something up. You can also always do some household tasks if your creative process isn't going well. Changing activities is the best kind of rest. I love old Soviet living districts. I think short buildings with large green yards between them are a kind of luxury.

All my finished artworks are stored in another place, so I don't have a problem with clutter at home. I like simplicity and having a minimum amount of things around, so you can have a relaxing space anywhere. I value not the size of a place, but its freedom from being cluttered.

The same goes for my finished works: if they were all in the same place where I work, they would put pressure on me. The place where all my finished works are stored is not far away, and I invite anyone who wants to see them.


The most important thing in the work is to set priorities correctly, because time is always limited. And if I have it, I already know what I'm going to do.

The amount of ideas is always more than the amount of ways to make them happen, and I already have some kind of natural selection of ideas when I only think of them. I also never rely on inspiration, because the most interesting ideas come into mind when you just do what you planned to do. You just start doing it and you have the ideas coming "through your hands", and you realize how the work should be done.


I don't really believe that art can change something globally, because civilization has lost its way too much. But since I can't do other things very well, I use my work to express ideas that I think are important. Theater, not like installations and paintings, can influence more people and possibly convey certain ideas, just like movies can.

I don't have a manifesto and don't think I will have one in the near future. What I do is an experiment and a question first and foremost. If I had to write a manifesto, it would be a long list of questions that I can't answer myself.


I think the concept of inspiration is often overestimated. Or maybe I just have this kind of personality where inspiration becomes diluted over time. An expressive artist can really have a bright flow of inspiration.


My favorite works are two from the Masha.Domestication series, which was exhibited at Cosmoscow in 2018. They are tiny animal portraits painted on a canvas stretched over a finger. They have something of the quality of icons, as if the image just appears on the canvas by itself, happening by chance.


For the same purposes as in 1939-1945. 2020 is not the worst thing that has happened throughout the history of humankind yet.

studio visit

28 December, 2020