Svetlana Bailey


In the early 1990s, at the fall of the Soviet Union, my family fled St Petersburg for Germany. Though I left behind image-scapes of red and blue propaganda paintings, their early impressions followed. In my work I return to them, exploring images and their simulations. In my series of photographs titled Once there was there wasn’t, I return to places of imaginative influence: to the Russian countryside where I spent my summers as a child, to photograph in the abandoned house of my late Grandmother. During this journey of return, I construct scenes that include objects I find there with images that I bring with me from moments since I left that place, photographing layers of times and spaces using multiple or non-linear perspectives.

Imaginary spaces are a feature of mental impressions and perspectival images. As I work with them, I encounter the limits of the photographic medium through surfaces, layers, copies and shifts of vision. I consider truth and representation, natural concerns of photography, which I engage via perspective, acting not as grammar but rather as rhetoric. The pictorial perspective of the camera gives the shape of the illusory space behind the surface of the photograph. When I interrupt this, through the installation of prints or nonsensical perspective, the resulting confusion and ambiguity must be accepted as part of one’s visual field.

My current direction explores the plasticity of objects and their convertible nature. I work with materials that come cheaply, looking into the reflections of holographic wrapping paper sold in dollar stores, searching for satisfaction within their illusions. In making images I explore the substitutable and symbolic nature of these objects and the experience of illusionary space.


Svetlana Bailey received her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, and is a recent alum of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the NARS Foundation Residency in New York. Born in St Petersburg in 1984, Svetlana grew up in Germany. She has undertaken residencies in China at the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre and the 501 Artspace. Svetlana is represented by Artereal Gallery in Sydney, has had solo exhibitions at government institutions around Australia, is a recipient of the New Work Grant and the ArtStart program from Australia Council, was published in Aint-Bad Magazine, Photographer’s Quarterly, Feature Shoot, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Svetlana’s work is held in the Australian Government’s Artbank collection, the collection of the Queensland Centre for Photography and the Library of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Svetlana lives in New York and was recently part of Certain Things at Clamp Art NYC.

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