Of masks & magic: Uldus Bakhtiozina makes images that poke fun at stereotypes

Originally posted on TED Blog:

Stormtrooper: A portrait of a 12-year-old boy who hides his aspirations to be a ballet dancer from his friends.
Stormtrooper : A portrait of a 12-year-old boy who hides his aspirations to be a ballet dancer from his friends. Image: Uldus Bakhtiozina

A 12-year-old boy in a Stormtrooper helmet – and a tutu. A hulking man wearing a pre-Raphaelite collar of Barbie dolls. A bride standing wistfully in a garden, her face obscured by a wrestling mask. Russian photo-based artist Uldus Bakhtiozina’s whimsical and surreal images — which feature models as well as herself — raise an eyebrow at identity, gender and cultural stereotypes with humor and thoughtfulness. Exquisitely detailed and lit like classical paintings, her images reveal a vulnerability in her heavily costumed subjects, offering layers of meaning and emotion. At TED2014, we spoke to Uldus about her work and worldview. Below, an edited transcript of our conversation.

Tell us about yourself and how you got started.

I found my way to photography six years ago. At the time, I was doing my art degree in England. There I was, surrounded with…

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