Aida Emelyanova – I Do Whatever You Animals Do



Aida Emelyanova is a Kazakh-Russian artist who brought her works to Lights of Soho in celebration of Frieze.

Entitled “I Do Whatever You Animals Do”, the exhibition is inspired by the role reversal of humans and animals. She has transformed herself into the animals that humans capture, objectify and kill for pleasure. As the producer, director and protagonist of the photos, you get to see Aida transforming in each photograph, as they all carry a story.

Her collection was on display for one day only at Lights of Soho and FAULT was there for a chat with the artist

How did you come up with all of this?

Initially, I wanted to put myself in the animal world and showcase female stereotypes. I tried to compare ourselves to animals and illustrate how women feel caged. So, I made a narrative behind every single photograph.


What made you feel that the best way to portray humans as animals was to choose yourself as the protagonist of the scenes?

I did the whole production by myself. I did the pictures, I even worked on the objects in the pictures. I did have other models in it at first, but the outcome was inaccurate to the idea that I had in my head. In order to get what I had in mind out there, I had to do it all by myself. It took ten times longer, but I knew how every image was going to work. I knew what expressions I wanted to get, I knew how everything was supposed to play out.


You incorporate fashion as well into your photographs. In what way do you feel that emphasizes your purpose of showing that humans can learn so much from animals on humanity and humility?

I didn’t feel like incorporating much fashion in the project, to be honest. Apart from two or three pictures, there aren’t many clothes, because you don’t get clothes in the animal kingdom but then again, I didn’t want everything to be completely nude. The purpose of the dresses and the use of fashion in this array of pictures is merely to balance them out. I tried to stay as far away as possible from fashion because it could have become confusing to the viewer.



Aida’s show can be seen at Debut Contemporary in London at 82 Westbourne Grove.


Words: Adina Ilie