Eliška SKY is not just a photographer or an artist. She is a catalyst. Hers is the business of bringing about a head-on collision between what is real and the surreal. The outcome leaves us with a sense of impact, yes, but then there is also a slow trickle of realisation… discovering what she is really telling us. In her latest series, Parasites, it’s a sensation not unlike feeling an unexpected raindrop rolling down your cheek. And then discovering that it is blood.
“I wanted to play with symmetry,’” she says, matter-of-factly. “For a long time, I had this idea of a mesh of people together and creating a structure.” However, she hadn’t found a concept through which to explore this complex visual challenge. That is, until she began to work with Canon’s Young People Programme in her role as a Canon Ambassador. “I was teaching a workshop at Chelsea College of Art and we were working to themes from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” she explains. “That’s where it sparked – to join these two ideas.” Eliška had never previously encountered the 17 goals – an interconnecting network of strategies which urgently call for global action on poverty, inequality and education, as well as environmental threats to land and oceans. But the more she learnt, the more this idea of human structures grew in her mind.
People are always key to Eliška’s work, and she is unafraid to present humans in ways that are unconventional and occasionally discomforting. In her shock at the scale of the work needed, as presented by the UN SDGs, she questioned both the role of humans in creating the problems of the world and in solving them. “I asked, ‘are we parasites of the earth?’ and that’s why the shapes remind me of a beetle or a parasite.” However, like the goals do not point the finger of blame, but signpost the direction of positive travel, Eliška wanted to use her work to do the same. “It was important to me to show how we have the power to make a difference and to make a change.”