The world through the warped perspective of Olya Oleinic

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Olya Oleinic is primarily a photographer, but also CGI video maker. She was born in the Republic of Moldova and is now based in The Netherlands. The young image maker has already garnered a considerable amount of attention from high profile clients, such as Nike, Calvin Klein, and Random Studio, and has been featured in publications such as i-D, Cactus, and Prestige. And she has a few exhibitions under her belt, including a solo show at the wonderful Foam Photography Museum in Amsterdam. Phew. The long list of accolades aside, her work speaks for itself. Oleinic almost always works with models, using the human body as a form to manipulate and portray her unique perspective on the world. The photographer sees strange details and conceptions that may not be evident to others, singles them out, and twists them further to alienate the familiar through colour, lighting, juxtaposition, and exaggeration.

Collage is a technique that Oleinic uses often, but in more subtle ways than we may be accustomed to. For example, in the Made of China series, the photographer’s subjective impressions of a trip to China are reworked into manipulated imagery. It is sometimes difficult to tell whether, say, a real turtle has been topped with four plastic elephants and a mechanical contraptio and then photographed, or if the image has been constructed entirely in Photoshop. The portrait of a man on a motorbike sports collage-like attire, layers of obscuring clothing, and then has been clear-cut and pasted on top of what appears to be a photograph of a city landscape, but turns out to be 3D generated imagery probably acquired via Google maps. Again, there are multiple layers of symbolism and subjectivity to hurtle through. The series is a travel diary of sorts, as much as it is a reflection on China’s particular brand of consumer culture.

Oleinic’s editorials for the glossy pages of trendy publications also play with the artificiality, artifice, and desire embedded in today’s globalised consumerism and internet-based visual culture. Her dabbles in CGI take the weird qualities seeping into her photographs to another level, here she contorts the human form into bloated, warped contortions reminiscent of David Lewandowski’s loopy work (just take a look at the oddly hypnotising Chubby Chaser). Take a deeper dig into Olya Oleinic’s imaginary here, but beware — nothing is what it seems.