Sasha Frolova discusses latex, artistic synthesis and her performance practice

The Russian multidisciplinary artist Sasha Folova explores her inimitable performance practice that blends latex costumes with abstract forms.

by Manu SharmaPublished on : Apr 14, 2022

The contemporary artist Sasha Frolova was born in Moscow, Russia, which is where she currently lives and works. Her practice is multidisciplinary in nature and is chiefly concerned with synthesising various visual motifs and styles found across cultures and eras. Frolova is often compared to the likes of Lady Gaga for her visionary costume design, and performances that blend the bleeding edge of sculpture and fashion. Within her inimitable oeuvre, it is her inflatable sculptures and latex costumes that she is recognised for most.

Costume for Aquaaerobika performance project, 2008, digital photograph, Sasha Frolova| STIRworld
Costume for Aquaaerobika performance project, 2008, digital photograph Image: Vladimir Maximov, Courtesy of the artist

Frolova tells STIR, “I like to define myself as a visionary artist. In my work, I try to foresee the future by creating its innovative aesthetics today. My sculptures and performances are characterised by flexibility, mobility, fluidity — properties that will determine the life and modus operandi of future generations. I work mainly in the genres of performance art and sculpture. I create inflatable sculptures and costumes from latex, and also large-scale inflatable installations from other materials. I am also a singer for the music project Aquaaerobika, which synthesizes electronic music and performance art. I became popular with my ‘inflatable Marie Antoinette’ – a modern version of baroque style costumes that were created as a part of performance project in the Etretat Gardens, in Normandy, France. My performance was dedicated to Marie Antoinette and was inspired by her epoch. I created Inflatable fashion pieces from latex, such as towering, faux hairdos and form-fitting suits and performed in these costumes together with classical ballet dancers. My performance became very popular and over the last few years, I showed it in many places all around the world from Venice to Los Angeles.” Frolova performed at a special event for Dolce and Gabbana, made an appearance at the Venice Carnival, and even had her costumes take part in Tim Walker’s photoshoot for W magazine; she is truly one of the most iconic and unmistakable performers practicing today.

Fontes Amoris. Violet. 2021, Costume from “Fontes Amoris” series | STIRworld
Fontes Amoris. Violet. 2021, Costume from “Fontes Amoris” series Image: Ekaterina Bugrova; Courtesy of Sasha Frolova

With regards to the willfully flamboyant and unabashedly modern art project called Aquaaerobika, Frolova explains that it’s through this platform that she can work for a wider audience, and can perform not only in museums and galleries, but also in clubs, at festivals and in public spaces. “Thanks to this,” she tells STIR, “I can acquaint the public with contemporary art and adapt the viewer to a more correct perception of it. This is a show with original music; all tracks are written specifically for the show and I sing live. To sing in latex is not easy, but the visual impact justifies the difficulty.” An audience member at an Aquaaerobika show is likely to view dancers in avant-garde Bauhaus-style costumes with huge inflatable decorations, cast in contrast to objects that look rather like flamboyant sculptures. There is also a distinct aspect of motion to the whole affair that makes one feel as though they are experiencing a moving sculpture as a whole, wherein each individual facet is equally distinct and engaging.

Photo 4: Artist’s archive, 2018, digital photograph, Sasha Frolova | STIRworld
Photo 4: Artist’s archive, 2018, digital photograph Image: Sasha Frolova

Discussing her beginnings, Frolova tells STIR, “I was dreaming of becoming an artist ever since I was a child. My mother is an artist too, and she gave me a lot of direction. I owe my teacher Andrey Bartenev, a famous Russian performance artist, for my initiation into artistic practice proper. I have worked with him as an assistant for about eight years. I have also been friends for many years with Andrew Logan, who is a famous British sculptor and the creator of Alternative Miss World contest, where I took the third place in 2004. That was at the very beginning of my artistic career, but I later took the first place and became Alternative Miss World in 2014.” This victory inspired the artist, and garnered her a great deal of support, which in turn gave her the confidence and power to move forward. She tells STIR, “My forms are fantasies that can deflate, disappear and dissipate at any moment like a soap bubble. Only a thin latex cover of 0.33 mm keeps them from disappearing. I am very much inspired by nature and choose a plastic language inspired by natural, biological forms - the language of smooth, rounded lines. I am attracted to the unique biomorphic plastic, the softness of the lines that latex and air give. I am interested in the principles of shaping that become possible through the malleability of latex and which turns the material into my co-author. The material itself creates the shape and I am carried away by this co-creation - you never know how the pattern will swell, you try to calculate and this is a very interesting and intriguing process.”

Artist’s archive, 2018, digital photograph, Sasha Frolova | STIRworld
Artist’s archive, 2018, digital photograph Image: Sasha Frolova

The visual artist explains that she is deeply fascinated by the prospect of developing a new art form; one that is entirely her own. She says, “I like to work with different genres - combining them and creating a product that is difficult to place along any one particular line. Recently, I got quite carried away with exploring classical genres, such as ballet and opera. It was very rewarding to combine classical material with performance art and I am quite pleased with the results.” 

Pavel Ivanov, 2013, digital photograph, Sasha Frolova | STIRworld
Pavel Ivanov, 2013, digital photograph Image: Pavel Ivanov; Courtesy of the artist

Frolova expresses a desire to develop her practice further through intermingling aspects of public art and sculpture. She says “I want to create large scale inflatable and non-inflatable pieces, and to try my hand at new materials and styles of presentation. I see synthesis and combining styles as being the future of art. I believe that artists drive the progress of mankind, and invent and create our tomorrow. And the goal of the artist is the creation of new forms, new ideas, new genres; the creation of what does not as yet exist. It is actually very hard to create something super-new - we are limited by some kind of framework of perception. But new materials, new media appear, and thanks to this, the possibilities for synthesis become richer. Moving forward with technological progress and using these new media, we can push the boundaries of perception and make more interesting statements through our artistic practice.

07 mins watch Video from the artist’s latest exhibition | Sasha Frolova | STIRworld
Video from the artist’s latest exhibition Video: Courtesy of the artist

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