NATASHA LAVDOVSKY | VICTORIA BC, CANADA
Natasha Lavdovsky is a visual artist/photographer from Victoria, BC, Canada. Growing up on an island between the beach and a lake, in the traditional unceded Coast Salish territory (of the Tsawout Nation), Natasha has witnessed the gradual conversion of wild ecosystems into housing developments, and the transformation of flourishing marine environments into dead-zones. The effects of time, chaos, natural processes, colonialism and the interconnections between her natural environment and cultural identity is a core element informing her work. After studying Visual Arts, Geosciences, and Art History at Princeton University, Natasha worked and lived in New York City. Following this, as a breath of fresh air and reconnection to the reality of the wilderness, she moved to Haida Gwaii where she began to develop new artistic methodologies with the hopes of causing minimal negative effect on the environment. She now lives in Victoria, BC.
What is your work about?
At the northern most tip of Vancouver Island, at the end of the logging roads, is a remote hike-in access beach where the ocean relentlessly paints psychedelic patterns across the sand. Twice a day, as the tide recedes, the water arranges the sand grains, replicating its own chaotic textures of ripples and turbulence- then hours later, the tide washes it all away again. There is an endless variety of shapes and patterns, intrinsically linked to the direction of the winds, the time of year, and the day of month. The tide is the artist, and I am the dedicated witness. Camping alone on the beach, amidst the wolves and cougars, I live by the tide and the sun. From the moment the tide drops far enough to create the first pattern, I am out with my large format 4×5 camera, adamantly performing a sweeping investigation of the ocean’s most recent sand art, and I don’t stop until the tide floods back over the sand, forcing me to retreat 6 hours later. The impermanence of these delicate granular formations is what makes them so compelling. Too much wind blows them away, too much rain pock-marks their sharpness, too many hikers covers them with footprints. It is a lesson in letting go, and relinquishing control. The transient fluid element of the tide is both creator and destroyer. When perceived within the right temporal framework, nothing is truly permanent.
How does photographing on film (or using your material photographic process of predilection) inform your artistic practice?
Using a large format field camera to photograph these abstract compositions forces me to slow down and establish a more intimate relationship with my subject matter as I set up to take the photograph. The experience becomes a meditative practice. With only 6 hours per day to capture these sandy textures, working with film restricts my how prolific I can be on a given day, forcing me to relinquish the illusion of control. Limited by the number of loaded cartridges I carry with me forces me be more deliberate in my compositional choices, and honour the time sensitive nature of the sand patterns, since each composition will disappear with the next rising tide. Additionally, the level of detail and resolution that I can attain with large format film allows me to print these images at a huge scale, further distorting their representational qualities, and bringing them closer to a truly abstract composition.