Julia – Amsterdam, NL
I met Julia back when I was running an art gallery. She was working on a photography project in which she did the scorpion-yoga pose, naked and painted green from head to toe. It basically turned her into a sculpture and I immediately saw the potential to do something together. So this year we met again in her studio in the Amsterdam Holocaust Museum. It was full of selfie-style paintings which, contradictorily enough, rarely showed her face. Julia explained that this represented the paradoxicality of her personality. She’s open and closed at the same time; gentle and rough; naive and sophisticated. When she told me her story, this dichotomy seemed to make sense. Julia was born and raised in Russia, but she never felt ‘Russian’. So she moved around a lot, trying to find a place where she could be herself. At one point she was living in Sweden illegally and a yoga mat was all she had, so she started practicing. Combining mental balance with a happy spirit, she learned to achieve the most challenging poses. For our shoot she moved around her studio like a circus artist, blending into the surroundings and creating beautiful line play in the proces. And Julia’s face doesn’t show in my portraits either, yet they do capture who she is: driven by finding harmony in opposition. Given her past, nobody knows where Julia will be tomorrow or what she will be doing.