Leadership in art is visionary when it surprises us into transforming our perceptions of the world, like this extraordinary, playful work! It reminds me of how we are shapeshifters, but hold that fact as if it is a secret, forgetting that the art of leadership authenticity is about expressing the surprising paradoxes of who we are and how that manifests in the world in a way that makes our vision possible, shares that possibility with colleagues and followers, opens up transformation in ourselves, our culture, our work, our play! Art like this reminds me to enjoy the paradoxes in myself and my culture, even the ones that startle me, maybe especially those! Thank you.
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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