DJing, erotica, fashion: Nastya Pilepchuk is a polymath artist for our times

29 January 2019

Nastya Pilepchuk, best known as one half of DJ duo Maiden Obey and co-founder of erotic magazine Areola, has recently launched her first clothing collection and is currently working on a book. This polymathic approach to creativity is perhaps not surprising from an artist who has tried her hand at everything from painting to music, T-shirt design, physics, photography, and alternative medicine. The Calvert Journal caught up with Pilepchuk to ask her about motivation, life between Moscow and Berlin, and the benefits of doing a hundred things at a time.

The scope of your creative activity is so varied. How do you manage it?

I really enjoy the variety and the fact that I can shift from one activity to another throughout the day. I make masks, arrange photo shots, choose fabrics for my clothing line, paint. Working on a number of things simultaneously keeps me inspired and motivated. This could have helped me had I known it when I was younger, when I picked up new activities quickly but never really finished them because I got bored concentrating on one thing at a time.

What’s the relationship between your creative projects and your personality?

I see art as meditation, a way to reboot my entire system. This is how I disconnect from the world, look inside, and discover my true self. A few years ago, painting helped me recover from severe depression. With DJing, the agency, and photography, however, it’s completely different. Those are more about communication, competition, and giving instead of receiving. But I really enjoy them too.

From Areola magazine. Image: Erik Panov

Tell us more about Areola, the erotic magazine you helped to found.

We started Areola four years ago. At first it was hard to arrange photo shoots, even with girls who were conventionally “beautiful”, let alone trying to photograph plus size models, for example. We do have body positive stories on the site now, as well as one featuring an older model. But despite all the efforts on the part of media figures, many girls still don’t feel confident enough for an erotic photoshoot if their beauty somehow deviates from established social standards.

What keeps you motivated?

I’ve always struggled to concentrate on things; I had to learn to focus on the process instead of the results. My friend Dasha is a great help — she is the first to kick my ass if I get lazy. And, of course, my partner: his continuous support and effort to come up with new things to engage with together. Last year we organised a video performance in Iceland and now we are working on a book that will soon be published by The Circadian in Berlin.

Image: Sol Man

You’re currently based between Moscow and Berlin. How do you find living and working in these two cities?

I run Areola-related stuff and DJ in Moscow. It’s where my friends and family are, and all the things that are so dear to me. Berlin is calmer, and I prefer to paint there. I really feel the contrast between the cities every time I switch. Once in Berlin I instantly tune in to its friendlier, carefree vibe, something that is so natural to that city. Back in Moscow, I feel more like a dog seeking to be petted.

Where do you feel most centred, most at home?

It’s hard to tell, really. “Being in the now” means acquiescing to the concept of time as such, which I don’t do. I feel time passing quickly in big cities, and stopping when I leave them. There is one place, however, where I feel comfortable in the here and now. It’s a place I long dreamed of: Iceland. When we arrived there a year ago, I realised that everything I ever did in art was somehow rooted there, in the place between life and death. I was lying in the lava fields and looking into the sky, soaking in the freshest air, and I felt we had become one with Iceland.

From Pilepchuk’s latest project, a series of mask designs

What films, books, or music are you really enjoying right now?

I quite like eating and washing dishes with Serebrennikov’s film Summer on in the background. Maniac on Netflix is also good for that. The most exciting book I’ve read recently is A Brief History of Everything by Ken Wilber — the part on physics in particular. Oliver Sacks’s The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat is amazing. I’m also a big fan of books on alternative medicine. As for music, Aphex Twin’s melancholic tracks are forever in my heart.

Top images by Stas Falkov and Egor Kuzmin

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