Ukranian born artist Stanislava Pinchuk, AKA M.I.S.O, is as borderless in her creative work as she is in her geography. From data mapping war zones through stunning artwork, her well known 'home made tattoos' that are one of a kind artworks she never accepts money for, client work for brands like Chanel, Nike and Louis Vuitton, speaking at TED or being featured in the Forbes 30 Under 30 - her creative footprint is as intriguing as it is global. We spoke to Stanislava about life at an intersection of travel and creativity, and a few favorite places she's experienced along the way.
ON WHERE YOU GREW UP
I grew up in Kharkiv, in Ukraine. Not in the city, but on the very edge of town. Quite actually; in the last grey, concrete tower block before the farm houses started. So from one window, it was just hundreds of Soviet blocks as far as the eye could see… and from the other, these tiny 19th century farm houses until the horizon, goats and roosters and little cigarette kiosks. A bus stop. A sewerage canal to play on, lots of stray cats and birch trees, and babushkas sitting at the building entrance like bouncers. You can’t get anything past them.
ON CITIES YOU’VE LIVED AROUND THE GLOBE
For about ten years now, I haven’t really been in one place for more than two weeks, I don’t think. I’m not very good at being in one spot, and also the work demands it; though I’m pretty sure that the former has fed the latter a bit. There was a lot of time in Tokyo, now increasingly Paris and Sarajevo. In Australia, it ends up being consistently between Melbourne and Sydney when I’m there. I’ve been spending a bit of time in Tanger too, when I can, between places.
ON A UNIQUE CUSTOM IN UKRANIAN CULTURE YOU ENJOY
Before a long trip, when all the bags are packed and by the door, an older person will say ‘Shall we sit for a minute?’ – and everyone sits together for about 30 seconds, in silence. It’s a tradition that I’ve always found to be incredibly poetic. A good omen for the road, and an acknowledgement of the present before a transition – and perhaps a chance to sit together one last time, just in case.
ON WINDOW SEAT OR AISLE
It doesn’t bother me at all.
ON WHEN TRAVEL BEGAN INFLUENCING YOUR WORK
Always, I suppose. That’s the really nice thing about not having one home – and not being ethnically just one thing. It’s made me feel at home everywhere, and I’ve always been quite receptive to moving around from a young age.
ON A RECENT TRAVEL INSPIRED PROJECT
I’ve been working on a collaborative series of tattooing & jewellery with my friend Zaiba Khan, where the two elements make up one composition on the wearers body, and the two decorative parts are inseparable. A lot of the inspiration came from feeding back to Zaiba’s work and inspiration, and vice versa – but has been heavily inspired by travels in the last year, obsessing with gold jewellery from Italy to Morocco, to Hong Kong. There were a few things that I saw in Marseille that really set it on fire, I think.
Before a long trip, when all the bags are packed and by the door, an older person will say ‘Shall we sit for a minute?’.. A good omen for the road, and an acknowledgement of the present before a transition”.
ON INSPIRATION FROM JAPAN
I’ve always felt that Japan has such a profound resonance on artists, or if you’re a visual person in any way. For me, Tokyo was really the place where I began to learn about spacial theory; urbanism, metabolism, psychogeography. It’s where I first really fell for architecture in a huge way, and discovered practices like Sou Fujimoto and SANAA – that really informed the minimalism, whiteness and empty space of my work. But of course, many of their approaches are so rooted in Japanese tradition – concepts of ‘ma’, etc. So I suppose that was the really big catalyst of thinking that being in Tokyo gave me, above all.
ON EXCEPTIONAL SPOTS IN TOKYO
I love a really good wander through Meiji Jingumae with a take-away coffee and faint hangover, and watching weddings pass through the shrine at a distance. Especially when the procession monks are walking with music. The garden at the Nezu Museum is wonderful too. Dinner and whisky highballs at punk rock izakaya Tatemichiya in Daikanayama is a must. They have the best Yoshitomo Nara permanent marker drawings on the walls, and you have to crawl to the bathroom. And the food is out of control good. And after that, detour past the Naka canal, and then a 1 am wander through T-Site for books, of course. Then repeat again at Meji Jingumae with your hangover.
ON CREATIVE INSPIRATION IN PARIS
On a day off, I really love the Pompidou or the Palais de Tokyo. But my favourite thing of all (and I think it’s one of the most magic places in the whole world, full stop) is the Atelier Brancusi. He’s the one artist that completely stops my heart. When he died, he left his studio to the people of France – and it’s a very lucky thing that he did. It’s the one place that always electrifies me to make and keep making, and I always see something new in there. I always think a thought I’ve never had before.
Brancusi was totally modern and ancient, futuristic and beyond words. He got to the truth of sculpture, of what objects and relics are at their base, at their core. Romanian woodwork from the village, Greek marble, the futuristic steel of Paris in his time – he put it all together, into the most perfect, timeless combination.
He was around all the great modernist artists, all the movements – and never joined any of them… and as a result, kind of outlived them all with this really eternal aesthetic.
It’s the one place that always electrifies me to make and keep making, and I always see something new in there. I always think a thought I’ve never had before.
ON A RECENT INSPIRATION
I’ve always loved brutalism, but seeing some new Spomeniks in Bosnia in the last few weeks has been really inspiring. There’s really something about seeing sculpture at an architectural scale, without the practical function – that’s so moving.
ON A BORDER YOU HOPE TODAY’S CREATIVE COMMUNITY WILL OVERCOME
My great hope is that we are quite good at making what was the privately unsaid into the publicly said.
ON MOVING TO MELBOURNE
It’s never easy – and Australia is a deeply complicated place. But like I said, I’ve always moved and always been between things. I’m not really from one place in the first place, and I’ve never had a strong idea of ‘home’. And on top of that, I’ve never stopped moving. So changes, borders – that hasn’t stopped, that’s just life.
ON A CREATIVE EXPERIENCE TO CHECK OUT IN MELBOURNE
A date to Heide MoMA and then finding a spot on the river to watch the fruit bats migrate with sunset.
ON SOMETHING FROM THE UKRAINE YOU LIKE TO GET A FIX OF
Cherry dumplings, with sour cream and honey – and a little vodka, and a newspaper. New York has a few places that really bring the goods, luckily! But it’s far and few between mostly. It’s a pleasure that has to be reserved for arriving in Kiev.
ON TANGIER IN ONE WORD
I had so many great two word ones. But if one…. it’s ‘Amorous’.
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