(American, b. 1977 Russia; resides in Des Plaines, IL)
Anna Shteynshleyger's series City of Destiny (2004-2009) is comprised of portraits, still lifes, interiors, and landscapes taken in various locations in the United States and Russia. The title derives from the official motto of the city of Des Plaines, Illinois, a Chicago suburb where Shteynshleyger lived for five years. City of Destiny is a contemplative examination of the artist's relationship to the Jewish community to which she belongs. The images retain an aura of questioning detachment and quiet observation informed by Shteynshleyger's felt status as an outsider: first as a Jew in Russia, and later as a Russian émigré in the United States. Upon coming to the United States, Shteynshleyger began photographing the world around her as a way of controlling it as well as connecting with it: "I was attempting to edit the world by composing various elements and components within the frame. It is as childish as magical thinking. As if placing things on the ground glass of a camera changes their status. As if reducing the world to two-dimensional flatness changes its impact on me." For Shteynshleyger, being a photographer mirrors her experience of reality: a photographer observes and composes the world with the desire to connect with it, but will always fail to make that connection. The camera separates her from the world while also allowing her to contemplate it.
Anna Shteynshleyger was born in Moscow, Russia, in 1977, and came to the United States in 1992. She completed a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art (1999) and an MFA from Yale University (2001). Recent exhibitions include Nothing in the World but Youth at the Turner Contemporary Museum in Kent, England, and a self-titled solo exhibition at the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago. Shteynshleyger is a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship recipient (2009) and is currently on faculty at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
… be it a metaphysical or cultural concern, whether it’s a critique or a celebration, art remains a practice rooted deeply in the material world. We make likenesses of what we see and transform our world in a very tangible way. Any situation can reveal a reality not apparent at first examination. - Anna Shteynshleyger
Shteynshleyger’s photographs of Siberia examine the sites of Russian labor camps under the former Communist regime. The juxtaposition of the beautiful landscapes with their history of containment and oppression draws an interesting paradox about the character of modern Russia. Making three different trips to different regions of Russia, Shteynshleyger manipulated already existing scenes rather than creating new situations.