Faceless images, anonymous personal objects, stolen mountains and returned street objects, … Inside Natalia Filatova’s mind, it’s a whirlwind of thoughts, experiences, concepts and knowledge. Born in Donetsk and now working in Lviv, Ukraine, she graduated from Vasyl Stus DonNU and is today a <<MYPH>> conceptual photography school student. Natalia has picked up the Polaroid and Instax cameras since 2011, using these for her photo experiments where she loses control over the outcome since this form of photography is hardly predictable. With her Instagram handle @shkel’tsya she refers to what her great-grandmother called Polaroids: pieces of glass.

In her work, Natalia explores a range of themes that reflect both her inner-worldly experiences and the experiences of the outer world.

Using the street as her canvas, she singles out static objects that are usually lost in what we perceive as visual noise while we’re on our journey. Natalia focuses on these objects, and using her Polaroid camera brings these to our attention: rather than printing 3D on a 2D object, she transfers these static objects to life.

In a peculiar shift, she challenges the characteristic ‘hiking towards beautiful sunsets in the mountains’ pictures overflowing the internet. Citing nature as her favourite model, Natalia shows through decaying instant photographs that even what we cherish will perish at our hands, consciously or not. In some Polaroids, she purposely introduces decay whereas in others the expired film leads to ‘destroyed’ images. Her series of the Carpathian Mountains, representing boundless love, invites the viewer to wonder how much of human comfort to enjoy nature can readily sacrifice that same nature. During her hike along the Svydovets ridge, she noticed trails of jeeps and garbage – all in the wake of an upcoming resort in that same area. In a way, these seemingly insignificant few Polaroid photographs form both a protest and evidence against human’s fragility to both enjoy and destroy what we love. Her work urges us to revisit our own Polaroid collections and find out what we are protesting, or at least trying to capture before we, too destroy it –  our own glass pieces.

With her Polaroid work, Natalia regularly participates in Ukranian and international collective expositions dedicated to instant photography. Using conceptual images, she explores the depths of metaphors and ancient mythological figures to highlight current events. Her mind may be a whirlwind, but her camera knows how to capture her thoughts in evocative snapshots. From climate change represented by the Ukranian goddess of water Dana, to faceless refugees with their anonymized personal belongings, leading to how strange strangers are – are they even real? – Natalia keeps pushing the boundaries of sense and chaos with her camera and her pieces of glass.