Inna Etuvgi, rooted in Sweden, delves deep into the macroworld, capturing its nuanced beauty that often goes unnoticed. Starting her self-taught journey in 2020, her prowess quickly garnered attention, earning her a spot as an Arte Laguna Prize 16 finalist... Read More
Inna Etuvgi, rooted in Sweden, delves deep into the macroworld, capturing its nuanced beauty that often goes unnoticed. Starting her self-taught journey in 2020, her prowess quickly garnered attention, earning her a spot as an Arte Laguna Prize 16 finalist and recognition from the Swedish Arts Grants Committee in 2023. Her esteemed works are featured in “Photography in the Visual Culture” 22/23 and are cherished in private collections worldwide.
Drawing inspiration from her Arctic roots and Chukchi heritage, Etuvgi underscores the unsung heroes of our ecosystem, exemplified by the pivotal role of Cladonia Stellaris lichen. Through her macro photographs, she offers a glimpse into Nature's hidden gems, reminding us of the inherent beauty and significance of every detail in Nature.
Navigating life with Aphantasia: Etuvgi’s mind doesn't visualise, but it pulsates with vivid concepts, emotions, and sensations; she uses a camera to externalise her internal experience. Through her dew-centric compositions, Etuvgi probes the nuances of human consciousness, urging an exploration of our dual sentient existence within the tangible and conceptual realms. Using the instruments of AI, Etuvgi finds vivid visualisations for the questions that disturb her the most, making her artistic statement brighter.
Beyond merely showcasing nature's intricacies, through her art, Etuvgi reminds viewers: “While our perspectives may differ, we are all integral threads in the grand tapestry of Nature. Showcasing the little beings of Nature in a size relevant to ours, I aim to evoke the idea that even these small beings have the same value as we do and that we are all part of Nature. I invite views to become sentients in the world of Nature”.
For the Arte Laguna Prize, I offer a blend of my macro photos speaking about the life-building process in nature and digital art reflecting our human lives. My aim is to highlight the fact that, as human beings, we belong to both these systems: society and the bigger system of Nature, questioning who we are and what our role is on a larger scale.
“Duality”: humans live in two worlds: the tangible real world and the cognitive inner realm. These two spheres are interconnected, and we balance somewhere in between, while often living only in the illusion of our projections, losing contact with our true selves.
“The Last Mask”: The search for our true selves somehow becomes one of the sharpest social problems. I think everyone asks themselves, Who am I? What is my role? We have numerous social roles, or masks, which are like interfaces for communication with others. But is there a last mask, and what is behind it? What is the pure self behind it? And do other species have such an inner search for what they are? Or is it just a human story?
“Soft Body, Hard Shell”: On the one hand, it seems the easiest because there is a simple and natural “just be yourself!”, and, of course “everyone else is already taken”. But have you tried? To me, it feels like my soft body soul is deformed by the hard shell of self-control and waiting for myself, formed by the influence of my close surroundings, society, and experience.
“The Holy Green”: We have created morals and religions for better living, and they work on some scale, but at the same time, they seem to be deforming, and humans' lives become nothing on the scale of the burned book. I think we went too far into humans’ world and forgot that we belong to the world of Nature too. What makes life run on the planet? What or who produces food and oxygen for all of us? It is chlorophyll, the key component, that is only able to absorb solar energy and run the photosynthesis process, in which oxygen and glucose are produced. This green pigment is a key component of life on our planet—this is what is really holy! Lichens and mosses also have chlorophyll cells inside their bodies, and they produce nearly the same amount of oxygen as plants do. In winter, when the rest of nature is “sleeping”, and in remote regions, these little heroes keep on photosynthesis. The holy green component of Life
“When we say “yes!" while our society goes more atomic, bringing separate people on top, running around the question “Who am I?" Nature stands on symbiosis, and the beauty of life emerges from the collaboration of everyone. lichens as a bright testament to synergy. Emerging from the symbiotic relationship between fungus and algae, lichens develop abilities that allow them to thrive when many others cannot. It is the same when, in communication, both sides say "yes" to each other, creating a system when 1+1 is greater than 2! And isn't it about a family where partners love and respect each other? This is what I capture in this photo of Cladonia—the moment when two say yes to each other. The power of synergy that emerges from collaboration is probably the main lesson that we need to learn from Nature.
Conclusion: As species living on the edge of two realms, we have to remember that we are not just a part of our social world but part of the bigger system of Nature. Keeping the balance between these two spheres and understanding our role and place in them—this is the call of being sentient.
Thank you from the bottom of my mossy heart for your attention!
WHO I AM
Sweden-based digital artist and nature macro photographer