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Eva Lanska Interview: ‘The Existential Choice’

  • Eva Lanska’s latest video Installation in Venice’s Palazzo Bragadin will take place between April 19th and 24th 2022
  • Ikon London Magazine spoke to the artist and filmmaker about her creative journey

“The most important thing, in art, is to be who you are”.

Eva Lanska has glided through the creative world, publishing her own songs, five novels, and  having settled into her true passion; the art of film making. Her newest video installation, “The Existential Choice”, will be screened in Venice’s Palazzo Bragadin between April 19th and 24th 2022, and will also be available in NFT format.

I sit down with Eva in Soho House on a Friday afternoon. She is the picture of elegance, with a perfectly curled blonde ponytail and soft features. She greets me warmly, and we sit down to discuss her most recent projects, as well as the journey that led to much of the inspiration behind her work. To raise awareness, whether it be for gender, cultural and racial differences, or the safeguarding of children, is something Eva seeks to subtly exemplify in much of her work; although this is done with a subtlety, leaving it down to the audience to contemplate and make their minds up on the subjects explored in her art.

Having grown up in Soviet Russia, and lived in France, Israel, America and now a resident of London, Eva’s films interweave a plethora of cultural nuances. She describes her upbringing and journey into film below;

“I took my first independent black and white photographs when I was eight years old. I was a real paparazzi at that time. Not one of my classmates could walk past my camera without being photographed.

I persuaded my parents to buy me a camera that took 72 frames out of 36 – a device that was full of surprises but saved a lot of film, which was a luxury at the time. Despite the fact that in my childhood I was actively fond of paints, oils and watercolours, film remained my main tool, and still does, even today.

Eva Lanska interview

Eva Lanksa Attends The “The Harder They Fall” World Premiere – 65th BFI London Film Festival

At the beginning of 2000, I studied in Paris and began to experiment in video art. I created short installations on social topics, but only in 2017 did my work begin to be noticed. One of my short films even ended up at the Cannes Film Festival”.

We touch briefly on the monopolisation that Netflix (and few other mainstream streaming platforms) hold over the market, and I ask whether or not the demand for higher budget Hollywood style blockbusters limits or alters Eva’s style. She acknowledges the lack of support for shorter, more artistic films from these large streaming platforms – owing to the reduced profitable margins compared to blockbusters. The pandemic, too, has amplified the limitations of film in cinema, with viewers far more likely to watch films from the comforts of their own homes. “The idea of film feature is to participate emotionally with people who you don’t know” – something that cannot take place at home”. Nonetheless, she emphasises the need to create work that that you feel passionate about, and not feel resigned to writing solely for one profitable market.

Eva describes the difference between a short film and a video installation; in the former, you have five or ten minutes to tell a story. A video installation is instead comprised of moving still images, of which Eva emphasises the importance of aestheticism and elegance encompassed within these stills. “The Existential Choice” follows a brief interaction between two ballerinas, set in a stable, exploring the capacity of the body in movement and fluidity, and the turbulent relationship that women can have, oscillating between sisterly friendship and support to bitter rivalry. The story is told within the space of a mere minute.

She describes the contention between sisterhood and competitiveness in the ballet world below; 

“Every ballerina dreams of being a prima and playing the lead role. On her path to glory, she must overtake many rivals. But one of the main questions remains ‘what is the price of success?’

Since childhood, ballet has been a special art form to me. Several of the projects I have created were influenced by the history and beauty of Diaghilev’s ballet, which back in 1908, achieved great success and cultural influence in France and the United Kingdom.

During a visit to New York City, I was impressed by the high level of female solidarity within the society. This social movement, a sisterhood, opens up new opportunities and is an indispensable support for many women. I myself know from my personal experience how hard it is to be single mother, particularly being an immigrant living away from one’s family. How wonderful it is when women support women. It seems to me that the time has come to draw attention to this in Europe and take advantage of this positive experience. Women can achieve so much more by replacing competition with mutual assistance”.

When I chose the color scheme for this video installation, I was inspired by the works of Leonardo da Vinci. I started each day by looking at his work. His creative genius was my driving force. 

Eva Lanska at the 65th BFI Film Festival

Eva is a strong believer in finding your own path, even if that involves digressing from norms. “I never follow a movement just because it is fashionable. I did this because I think is best to proceed in this particular case”. Hence her choice to market the video installation as an NFT – the community of which has already been wholly enthusiastic and supportive of the piece.

Not only is Eva paving the way for a more classical artistic presence in the NFT world, she also emphasises the value of marketing her work on this secondary and emerging market. Through sales reliant solely on Cryptocurrency, she reliance on the orthodox investment market is diminished. She speaks too of the huge power held by classical art institutions, and how the NFT marketplace is changing the restrictions and monopolisation this market holds upon the art world. Yet, she acknowledges that many remains distrustful of these changes and that time is still required for art investors to come to trust the NFT marketplace.

Eva commenced her career as a writer. She still idolises Ayn Rand the power the author held, particularly during the war and archaic restrictions placed upon women writers of her time. Uninspired by the film scripts with with which Eva was being presented, she chose to go into scriptwriting herself. What way do to do it better than to write your own? 

“To find a good script, in business, it’s like finding a diamond”.

And these good scripts, according to Eva, are presented immediately to those with the most available funds – cutting out a huge percentage of smaller and more independent artists, and subsequently limiting the creativity of the industry.

‘The most important thing in creating artwork for me is the attention to detail – by paying attention to not only what will end up on the video tape, but also to what was in the center during the creation of this video installation.”

Brigitte Bardot is also one of Eva’s idols, alongside Ayn Rand, and she conveys the difficulties she is experiencing in choosing the correct character for her upcoming short film featuring the iconic French actress. She wants to honour her, and to do her justice – not for the piece to be comical – and is still in the process of deciding between the risk of casting of someone up and coming, or a more established actress. She asks me for suggestions of potentials actresses, (an answer which unfortunately my limited knowledge is unable to provide for).

Eva is a strong campaigner for more equality in female film direction. Only 17% of films are directed by women, she states, although she has been graciously accepted by the Hollywood’s Women’s Film Institute. “I am happy that this year my works will be presented surrounded by female artists since this once again shows that women’s solidarity is a loud voice”.

 Above all in larger budget films is this prevalent, which remain incredibly male dominated. She calls for change, and this from women themselves. In continuing to find courage and inspiration to create, she believes the industry can be changed and equalled out. Yet, she stresses the current marketable situation for film-making; “men, who finance, they trust men”.

Although she took acting lessons to learn the underworking’s of what it takes to be an actor, it was never a pursuit of Eva’s. She does however confess that many of the actors and actresses she knows come from troubled backgrounds, particularly during childhood. Through acting, they are released into a world of imagination through their profession. She draws the inspiration for her films from the stories told to her by those around her; for example, the abuse of children she has heard about from actors, or the difficulties faced by interracial relationships (explored in “Little French Fish”. Eva is also incredibly charitably involved, supporting Women for Women International and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Foundation amongst others.

For young directors starting out, Eva recommends never giving up. She concedes that artistic individuals take rejection personally, but that this is most often down to circumstance over talent, and that pursuance is key to success. Additionally, trusting your intuition is key. “First impressions can of course can be wrong, but for some reason it’s never been wrong in my case”.

Eva’s video installation “The Existential Choice” will be available commencing April, screened in Venice as well as purchaseable in NFT format. Her website is www.evalanska.com and she is also available at @becoingeva

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Eva Lanska at the 65th BFI Film Festival

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