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words Filipe Phitzgerard - images courtesy of Gorsad

Kiev-based three-piece art collective Gorsad is the one capturing scenes within the spaces where alternative youth culture flourishes at an odd yet soul-gripping way. Their camp is anywhere where society and patriarchal norms have not yet been imposed its rules, limits, and clichés. Currently formed by multifaceted creatives Masha, Julian and Vitja, Gorsad has a unique perspective when it comes to youth and the auguries of coming of age. Their work captures the deep sense of freedom hidden within. For Gorsad, hidden beauty is the best beauty and the one they live for. Their method; is to capture real hidden desires and emotions that stem from the deepest places in our subconscious.

They have their view of youth, both in what it looks like for them and how they portray it. Their photographs delve into the ever so significant time in a youngster's life where they begin to find out who they are and what influences them both consciously or not. Even though Gorsad stays away from politics and making a statement just for the sake of it, their work is organic and flows from real human behaviour. Inevitably, their images clash with the subject of authority and the pressures placed on youth from their adult generation.

We had the pleasure of speaking to Gorsad to find out more about their creative process, what motivates them and much more. We were also granted asses to samples of their work some of them from their powerful series ‘Heaven in Hell’.

F Word: Okay, let’s start from the beginning; can you tell us a bit about Gorsad and how it came to happen? Gorsad: We are a creative collective based in Kiev, Ukraine where we are from as well. We work with alternative photography and video direction and we create our own artworks as well as working in collaboration with many galleries, magazines, musicians and brands such as I-D Vice, Dazed&Confused, Skim milk, Hood by Air, Ariel Pink, and others.

F Word: How is it collaborating with names such as VICE, DAZED and Hood By Air? How does your work translate into the music side? Gorsad: Magazines are one of the best ways to showcase our work and collaborate in creating original content. As for video clips, it’s almost the same as photography, but there are other peculiarities and nuances that you translate into the video because it is a different media.

F Word: Why did you guys decide to start working creatively together? Gorsad: Most likely, at some intuitive level, we felt that we could get together to create and work on a project that we connected commonly but then none of us fully understood what it (the project) could be and what it would result in.

F Word: So would you say the collective was born organically from that one project and then developed into the collective you have today? Gorsad: Yes. Initially, we didn't have a format planned out but we knew we could and should work together. From there it just developed to become what it is today.

F Word: How did you decide what to create? Gorsad: It was something very spontaneous, and now it’s even difficult to remember what we were guided at that moment.

F Word: Who is currently a part of Gorsad? Gorsad: There are three of us; Masha, Julian and Vitja.

F Word: What would you say is the most interesting or intriguing aspect of your city? Gorsad: Kiev is a city with its unique atmosphere and people. There is a special combination of Ukrainian baroque, Soviet architecture, kitsch and something quite hard to understand about the city. There is a mood in the air that fuels the culture and, maybe, it is something even beyond words, you need to come and see it for yourself.

F Word: Besides photography and video; do you guys have other interests like the architecture or food culture? What else in your city inspires you? Gorsad: In addition to photography and video, we are interested in drawing.

F Word: The work you produce is very interesting and eye-catching; what would you say drives you as creatives? Gorsad: For us, this is very simple and straightforward: "this is what you feel on a subconscious level."

F Word: Do you mean the way you portray youth is something subconscious? Could you expand on that? Gorsad: Subconsciously, the people are looking to break from the norm and social-political restrictions and live in freedom to express what is truly inside of them. It is like; is the image you want to create. What you want to see. It is difficult to explain in words because it arises from the subconscious.

F Word: How is it working together as a collaboration unit? Any challenges? Gorsad: When we work together we are one and reasonably share our abilities, talents, and powers, and if necessary, during a challenge, we simply seek a compromise. We are always seeking for this compromise with one another because of our mutual respect for each other's individuality.

F Word: If there was one thing that connects you as creatives; what would you say that is? Gorsad: Friendship and our common interests.

F Word: What are some of your common interests? Gorsad: Well, this is like a vision of creativity in general, general outlooks on life, and our mutual assistance to one another.

F Word: What song would you say best describes your friendship? Gorsad: The Prodigy - Everybody In The Place.

F Word: Your portrayal of youth is raw and profound, and, is not something we usually see. How do you see your own aesthetic? Gorsad: Our inspiration is based on everything that goes against the conventional sense of morality. We are fond of unusual characters who don’t fear to live by their own rules.

F Word: There is a lot of courage in being like that. We love that courage! Do you think it is harder considering the political environment you guys live in? Gorsad: Honestly, we really don't care about politics. The aim is not to be political for the sake of it but to be free for the sake of it.

F Word: What is the biggest challenge you find when creating your work and publishing it? Gorsad: There isn't really a "biggest challenge." We do face some issues every now and then but only little issues. Nothing that would stop us.

F Word: What is your process like when photographing youth? Gorsad: Our process is very simple and real. From time to time we put something together, like a party, and then we take some time to shoot. The time we take to shoot can vary. Each time we approach it differently because we want it to be real and nothing forced.

F Word: Is there anything in particular that you look for in your subjects? Gorsad: It’s hard to say what we look for specifically but usually it’s some kind of peculiarity in their appearance or general behaviour. We are looking for those nuances that make people unique.

F Word: Where do you usually find your subjects? Gorsad: Pretty much anywhere. It could be on the Internet or the subway. F Word: How do the people you want to photograph respond to your work? Gorsad: Many people are (at first) instantly shocked, but they like it. It is interesting because we are constantly receiving offers from people who want us to photograph them.

F Word: Is there anything that concerns you guys when it comes to how the world will see your work? And does it matter what they think? Gorsad: Most people prefer traditional aesthetics and for this reason, many people do not perceive our necessarily like our photographs. We do not impose it on anyone as we believe each person is and should be their own. There is no pressure to like what we do, and we don't force that on anyone.

F Word: What are the main messages you want to portray through your images? Gorsad: Just be yourself. We know this is a common phrase and people use it a lot but that is literally the whole point. Just be you!

F Word: Are there any stories (unique/interesting) you can share with us from a shoot or a subject you photographed? Gorsad: There are a lot of interesting things that have happened, but retelling is not very interesting. We believe that it is better to see once than hear it a hundred times. Being present in that moment is what matters.

F Word: Why do you think the landscape in Kiev is so intriguing for the rest of the world? Gorsad: Probably because of the Post-Soviet aesthetics and cultural traces. People in general love what is forbidden and hidden. It is attractive.

F Word: Your work is very political as well, and flows against the mainstream narrative; how do you guys deal with politics through your work? Gorsad: Honestly, our art has no political message at all. We’re trying not to connect the politics in our works because it is not what Gorsad is all about. Our political positions as Ukrainians have a separate part in our life.

F Word: In two words; what inspires you as creatives? Gorsad: Hidden beauty.

F Word: For someone who has never been to Kiev; what should we look out for when we go there? Gorsad: Well, it is a known fact that all witches are from Kiev. So, you should probably Google some places where there are mystic powers. Those places are intriguing and mysterious.

F Word: If you could describe life in Kiev in three words; what would they be? Gorsad: Sexy, tasty and mysterious.


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