Most of us don’t spare a thought for the ground beneath our feet. It is just there, holding everything together yet going largely unnoticed; a victim of our busy lives and general complacency to the natural world around us.

The opposite is true for Stanislava Pinchuk. Her artistic gaze is firmly planted towards the worlds below us – the topography of the ground, the earth, the terra. From the site of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster to the landscape of the Ukrainian civil war, her work is an intricate mapping of the land, weaving together threads of trauma, loss and identity and exploring the way the wars exist in abstract, ephemeral ways.

Fusing her keen interest in philosophy, textiles, street art and topography, she has carved a truly unique artistic career, collaborating with the likes of Chanel, Tiffany & Co and Alain De Botton. She is represented by Hugo Michell Gallery and her work is held in various public collections including The National Gallery of Australia, The National Gallery of Victoria and The National Portrait Gallery.

Portrait by Robyn/Bobby Clark – bobby&tide 


  t must have been incredibly moving visiting the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster site. Can you tell us how this experience shaped the work for your most recent exhibition Fallout?

It’s a strange one. I mean, a nuclear zone is an overwhelming place to be. It’s been like that with all my projects, but I do dream about it a lot afterward. And partly, I think that comes from this sort-of policy that I have, with being in conflict zones as a very much – “eyes open, mouth shut” approach. No agenda, and not looking for a narrative, perpetuating what you expect to see – which, the more I work in difficult places, I notice a lot in photojournalists, in documentary makers, ground workers. So that makes it hard, sometimes. Of course, I’m drawn to particular things, because of what I’ve made before. But at the same time, you never know what you’re going to be struck by, what small thing might give everything meaning. And sometimes that might click a very long time after you’ve left. But with the Fukushima works, it’s really funny. As soon as we arrived in the zone – these fishnets were just lying there, drying in the sun, tracing the topography of the earth. And everything I’d been thinking about, was right in front of me. It hit me sideways. The connection of water to land, the idea of containment, that they were textiles contouring the land already. It felt like the exact opposite of what I try to do, but even after months of dreaming, it was really what stayed with me. So that’s what shaped the show!

“When you see your home invaded, you can’t help but to make work about it. I think I was just in a complete state of shock – the war was not something I thought I’d ever see in my lifetime.” 

Topography {The Road Leading to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant}, 1 x 2.25 m, pin-holes on paper, 2016. Private collection.


arlier in your career your work seemed to focus largely on exploring personal memories. Your 2015 exhibition Surface to Air, which explored the landscape of the Ukrainian civil war, represented a departure towards more global issues. What was the catalyst for this?

Thank you for noticing. Definitely, it felt like a really big change – but I made the work really intuitively, without thinking about it. I suppose when you see your home invaded, you can’t help but to make work about it. I think I was just in a complete state of shock – the war was not something I thought I would ever see in my life time. Being from the border, it was just so surreal. So I think it was still very personal work, but it definitely pulled me outside of myself in a new way.


Your artwork often focuses on an intricate mapping of the land. What is it about mapping the land that you are so drawn to? And, do you feel as though your artwork is the best means of expressing this exploration of land?

I’ve always found so much poetry in data. To me, there’s always been something about the land under you – that we see it as almost a little impartial. That the ground doesn’t move, or respond. That it’s solid under your feet. And that was a huge realisation for me, in the Ukrainian Civil War – how malleable that ground suddenly was, how changeable those borders were. You didn’t know what you were standing on.

“I’ve always found so much poetry in data.”

From Left:

Sonic Notation (Car Bomb, Kharkov) : Pin-holes on paper, 57 X 75 cm, 2015. Private Collection.

Sonic Notation (Missile, Ukraine)’ : Pin-holes on paper, 57 X 75 cm : 2015. Private Collection.


ntidote is all about harnessing and celebrating the power of art to awaken humanity to important issues. Can you give us an example of a time another artist or artwork helped you to understand an issue?

I’ve seen Richard Mosse’s ‘The Enclave’ about a billion times. Anywhere it’s showing, in a city I’m in – I’m just there, over and over again. To me, it’s just a perfect work. It’s so hyper-real and so surreal at the same time. And I think it shows how confronted we are by very direct war images, in a way that we almost make them abstract, or fake, to deal with them. But maybe that gives them even more power? It always makes me wonder why we see The Enclave’s colour distortion of war as surreal, but take a black & white war photographer like Robert Kappa as testament, even though his images are arguably just as filtered? I could talk about it forever. But that work, definitely, changes my perspective on ideas of war, of conflict, every time – in a new way


What does 2017 hold for you?

A lot of different directions, all of them conflicting! I can’t wait to figure it out.

Images Courtesy of the Artist:

On site, Fukushima. Photograph : Ian Strange


Favourite book? 
I’m a really avid reader, an obsessive listener. So I find questions like this a little hard, to find absolutes – so I might just answer in my current fixations! Right now, I’m re-reading through Martha Gellhorn’s war reportage, decades of incredible journalism. She floors me in every way. Not just in her resilience in conflict zones, but in how she sees notices such subtle meaning in these overwhelming circumstances. She’s also brave enough to talk about the banality of war, and sometimes that’s the most heartbreaking thing of all. She’s got this incredible emotional eloquence and this really unique eye that I’ve never read in another frontline reporter. She was never a scion for any sort of authority, and held her anger at war, and at the governments who wage it so clearly, for eight decades.

Favourite film?  Last week, I saw ‘Spear’ – which was a dance film made by the Bangarra Dance Company. They’re a collective of Australian Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander dancers, and I don’t think anyone else dances quite like that in the world. It braided so many incredible sensibilities together, perfectly. I can’t stop thinking about it.

Favourite musician / band?  Right now, I’m completely obsessed with Mdou Moctar. He’s this brilliant Tuareg musician on the Sahel Sounds label. He just re-made Prince’s Purple Rain, set in the Nigerian guitar scene, and wrote the entire soundtrack to it. It’s the catchiest, best shit I’ve heard in forever. I think I might want to marry him.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?  I think I’d be pattern making, making clothes, something like that. Maybe I would have stayed further in the philosophy faculty?

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be? Clean drinking water & global access to contraception for all women! No brainer.