Fashion films have always been an experimental medium for adding an extra layer to stories we tell through clothes. For visual artist and director Masha Herz, meanwhile, they have become a way to explore contemporary consumption and human nature.
Family Weekend is a collaboration between Herz and fashion designer Roma Uvarov, who describes his work as “crazy clothes with an idea”. Uvarov’s designs can be surreal, camp, childish, or theatrical, but always playful and timely.
“In Family Weekend, I wanted to take the mannequins we see each day in the capitalist world, and place them into nature,” Herz explains. “I’m also interested in the uncanny valley effect: the theory that as a robot or an object appears more humanlike, they become more appealing to us, but only up to a certain point. Then they start causing anxiety.”
The resulting videos tell the story of a mannequin family, their romances, and their leisure time. Inspiration for the collaborative project was wide-ranging: from Toilet Paper Magazine GIF collages to VK blogs about 80s clothing. Experimental editing techniques were also used to resemble stop motion animation and create a feeling of jerky nervousness.
“I wanted it to feel as if the viewer was looking at the world through chaotic images and associations, like a creature which is only trying to pretend to be human. In the final video, one mannequin starts to feel jealousy. In that moment, she becomes human and even tries to murder her rival. But we are in the space of play, so the attempt of murder transforms into fireworks. The game is over, but no one wins”.
Herz is currently studying at Moscow School of New Cinema, film being her main interest. Her visual language incorporates a wide range of influences, not all of them necessarily coming out of Russia. Like many Gen Z image makers, Herz creates a global yet authentic vision. “I think Russia’s visual language is mainly associated with the Russian avant garde, Moscow conceptualists, and religious Orthodox, Soviet and Russian folk aesthetics,” Herz says. “I can’t say that my style is distinctly Russian, because i grew up on the visual culture of Tumblr feminism and the queer web community from mid-2000s. It has created a distance between me and any visual Russianness. But in the future I am more keen to explore it in my work”.
But as their latest project proves, Herz’s style is still very much evolving. “Before this project, I mostly worked with dream-like aesthetics. I was interested to see how my style would fit with Roma’s work, so child-like and colourful,” they say. “Inspired by the playful tone of his visuals, I worked with the same hidden dream-like things, but more related to the infantile and sentimental.”
Masha Herz, Sergey Kamenshchikov, Tosya Bakashina, Maria Zhukova, Julia Orlova
Ivan Markushevich, Emma Klushnichenko, Polina Dzydzina