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‘Changes, borders — that hasn’t stopped. That’s just life.’

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Feature by Exceptional ALIEN

Ukranian-born artist Stanislava Pinchuk — aka M.I.S.O. — produces work that can truly be described as borderless. Choosing to have no limits to her geographical location, she is leaving a creative footprint that is as global as it is intriguing.

Stanislava’s work ranges from data-mapping war zones through stunning artwork, to 'home-made tattoos' that are really one-of-a-kind artworks for which she never accepts money. She has also worked with brands including Chanel, Nike and Louis Vuitton, given TED Talks, and featured in the Forbes 30 Under 30. 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, in the last grey, concrete tower block before the farmhouses 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 farmhouses 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 Ukrainian 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 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. 

Artwork by Stanislava Pinchuk.

On a recent travel-inspired project

I’ve been working on a collaborative series of tattooing and jewellery with my friend Zaiba Khan, where the two elements make up one composition on the wearer's 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. 

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 spatial 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.

‘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 exceptional spots in Tokyo

I love a really good wander through Meiji Jingumae with a takeaway 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 whiskey highballs at punk rock Izakaya Tatemichiya in Daikanyama 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 1am 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 favorite 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. 

Photos from recent travels. Top Image: Ennis Cehic Below image courtesy Stanislava Pinchuk

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.

‘Atelier Brancusi is 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 border you hope today’s creative community will overcome

My great hope is that we are quite good at making what was privately unsaid into 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.

Artwork by Stanislava Pinchuk.

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 few and far between, mostly. It’s a pleasure that has to be reserved for arriving in Kiev.

On window seat or aisle

It doesn’t bother me at all.

On Tangier in one word

I had so many great two-word ones. But if one… it’s ‘amorous’.


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