Maya Golyshkina is using her body as a canvas

The Russian artist transforms herself into sculptures of blooming flowers, naughty nurses and, er, hotdogs. You can see it all for yourself in her new solo exhibition.

Maya Golyshkina has never quite felt at ease with the world around her. Is there something wrong with me?” the 22-year-old Russian artist asks, when explaining the inspiration behind her work. I’ve been asking myself this all my life!”

It’s an existential question, to say the least – one that Maya has been trying to answer by using her body as a canvas, creating set pieces such as giant paper cupcakes and lifesize ashtrays to slot herself into. These are a prism through which Maya enjoys pushing the limit of her own body and self; mundane bits and bobs that take on entirely new meaning when her face is poking out of them.

This blurring between real life and performance art comes to a head in Something’s Wrong With Maya, her solo exhibition which is open until 5th May at Moosey Art gallery in Islington, North London.

“[In the show], I’m trying to find out whether or not I’m normal,” she says. I want people to feel a little crazy themselves, and [for it] to change their own world afterwards.” Mostly featuring self-portraits, the exhibition brings to life a number of scenarios: in one, Maya poses as a nurse, perching on a chair that’s upholstered with bog roll, with line drawings of a calendar, a clock and an IV drip in the background. In another, she lays cooly on a bed of playing cards, staring down the barrel of a camera.

Born in Moscow, Maya picked up photography as a teenager. But taking snaps of her nearest and dearest didn’t quite satisfy her need for introspection. I was a bit frustrated, because I wanted to show the whole potential of the world that was [inside] my brain,” she says. So I started experimenting at home with my face and body – I wanted people to know [what I looked like], my personality, my feelings, and I wanted it to look sophisticated.” No boundaries, no judgement, no sense of place: just Maya, Photoshop and a healthy dose of DIY.

When Maya moved to London a couple of years ago (“I never saw many opportunities for myself [in Moscow]”), the ingenuity and playful absurdity of her work began gaining traction on Instagram – so much so, it earned her collabs with brands such as Marc Jacobs, Balenciaga and MM6 Maison Margiela.

Impressive stuff. But for Maya, creating is still about figuring herself out. The way she sees it, the body” is much bigger than the sum of its parts. It’s a tool that we use to move through the world, and something to be carefully looked after. Turns out, nothing’s wrong with Maya at all.

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