KSENIYA SOVENKO

When it comes down to it, I think much of my confidence stems from my internal focus on self-reliance and independence. Perhaps this is more a facet of my stubbornness, but I tend to avoid placing any kind of dependence on anyone besides myself to accomplish anything from a mundane task to a "big-picture" dream. When you learn to sever the tether of reliance, you begin to realize you don't need the approval of others to validate your existence, art, or self-expression either. Honestly confronting your motivations and intentions for pursuing a particular path - in my case modeling - allows fear to melt away, leaving only drive in its place. For me, modeling is a form of acting; I am a blank canvas for the photographer, and I am able to draw out the necessary aspects of my personality or look to bring their vision to life. For this reason, I can't remember ever feeling insecure during a photo shoot. I never think about how I'll look in the photos while I'm shooting. I'm focused on conveying an authentic expression of whomever I am playing that day. Where my confidence can waver, however, is at castings. There's no artistry or performance involved with going to a casting - people just literally size you up from head to toe. When I first started working, I thought that not booking a job meant you were inadequate or not beautiful enough. Now I realize it's all about luck; it's not that I'm inadequate, rather that I'm not the right fit for the very specific image they are searching for. When I'm waiting in a room with dozens of other gorgeous girls, that little reminder helps calm my jitters.

It may seem like a total contradiction, but I have no hesitancy handing over control to someone else when I'm modeling. Being independent in the "real world" gives me the confidence to model, but once I am doing so, it's one of the times where I can readily sit in the back seat. I've never been one of those models to propose or plan a concept, nor do I ever hover over the photographer and demand to see the photos during the shoot. Maybe I'm lazy, but I like it when all I have to do is show up. You never truly know the energy or the artistic direction until you're living in that moment.

 

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Having begun dancing at age five, I've always had an extremely keen sense of body awareness. My body has always been my primary tool for self-expression; it's my paintbrush. I am highly attuned to the way it moves through space, and the way it can look from any given angle. For this reason, I feel extremely comfortable in front of the camera, at least in a professional capacity. I mention that because as a teenager, I hated having my photo taken unless I was taking a self-portrait. This mindset was probably a consequence of my mom being a "momarazzi" anytime we were outside our home. Taking on the role of a "model," however, has obliterated that discomfort. When I'm working, I never think about posing; I move. If the photographer needs me to hold a certain pose, I treat it as a pause in my movement, one that is decorated with nuanced changes in micro-expressions or body angles. Of course, this level of comfort does grow with experience. I remember being told I was too "dancy" on my first shoot, so I overcorrected myself on the following one by being too stiff. But I figured it out pretty quickly. Modeling is about balancing normalcy with confrontation. You're constantly trying to create a moment which feels spontaneous, as if the photographer just happened to be in the right time and place. And that's the other secret, too: You need to train yourself to develop x-ray vision. You have to learn to look through the camera because photography is all about the temporary relationship and chemistry between the photographer and model. When you treat a photo shoot as an interaction, rather than a manufactured thing, it's much easier to be comfortable having your photo taken. Funny enough, the only time I ever feel awkward in front of the camera is when I ask a friend or stranger to take a "real life" photo of me, especially if it's on a phone and I can't hear the shutter sound.

 

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As a model, I strive for versatility above anything else. I'm rather bad at keeping track of other models and their work, so instead I cherish chameleons the animals as my ultimate source of inspiration. When seeking a photographer to collaborate with, I never have a specific "look" or genre in mind. I'm simply looking for someone who has a clear grasp of what they're doing, and whose body of work conveys something beyond still pictures. Perhaps they have a cinematic approach, an emotive focus, or an emphasis on movement. My selection is always on a case-by-case basis, with diversity in mind. Of course, this is what the artist in me looks for. When I consider what kinds of images I need to keep my book versatile, it's a bit of a different criteria, especially since I am with a predominantly commercial agency.

My personal preference is always for highly stylized or eccentric wardrobe. The further away it is from what I usually wear on a daily basis, the more I am able to separate from myself and play a character. For me, that's what makes modeling fun. The most memorable wardrobe I've ever worn was just last month when I had the privilege of donning a fully leather lingerie set handmade by Yeha Leung (the brand is Creepyyeha). It included a cage bra with a choker, a cut-out leather skirt with silver buckles, a waist corset, a garter belt, and long vinyl gloves. I looked like a full-on sex dominatrix, which is so far from my "everyday" image. It was truly incredible, especially because I obviously can't casually walk around the streets of the city wearing something that aggressive on a Tuesday afternoon. Mostly though, I'm happy with whatever anyone throws on me, as long as I don't have to do the styling myself.

 

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One of the most challenging aspects of my work but one that I am truly grateful for is: The focus on the aesthetics of the physical body. Of course, it can be extremely challenging to uphold the lean, slim image demanded by the industry; to constantly maintain the same measurements, even during the holiday season, and to constantly compare your body to the bodies of other models. But though this seems like a recipe for disaster, I am truly grateful for it. Before I started modeling, I ate mochi ice cream for breakfast, pizza for lunch, and hot pockets for dinner. That is no way to nurture a body, especially one that trains the way I do for dance. Now, I am extremely mindful about my nutrition. I never count calories and I eat what I want, but what I want has changed. Instead of fantasizing about inhaling a whole pack of Oreos, I'll crave a buddha or acai bowl. I am super into cooking and exploring a myriad of foods with the intent of making my body feel good from the inside out. I also haven't drank alcohol in two years and I consume enough water on a daily basis to fuel the Niagara Falls. It's also tempting to say that my obsession with fitness (which is a daily source of joy for me) stems from the same source, but that would be untrue, as I've been an athlete my whole life. At the very least, modeling certainly doesn't interfere with my gym rat mentality.

 

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I am unquestionably optimistic about my future as a human being who is striving to live a fulfilling life for herself. I am lucky to have reached mental clarity about my self-identity at a pretty young age. That is not to say I have a meticulous blueprint of the inner workings of my mind, but I'm unafraid of following any ups-and-downs that my emotions and experiences may impose on me. I'm completely comfortable with myself and who I am. I live in the city of my dreams and feel completely aligned with its energy, am a highly motivated person with abundant ambition, and I've got great people blessing me with their friendship. Pretty formulaic "world is my oyster" kind of stuff right there. Funny enough, I am much less optimistic about the longevity of my modeling career. I often feel as though my ambition in this particular field is beyond my realistic capabilities. I've got a couple of things working against my ability to make a living solely off modeling, namely the giant tattoo of a jellyfish decorating my torso and my inability to grow an extra inch. Not to mention that I'm turning twenty four this year, quite old for this world, especially in a city like New York, where you're competing with teenage girls. However, in the past couple of months I've come to the realization that my talents may be more aptly suited for acting, and I am extremely excited about getting proper training and pursuing possibilities in that realm.

 

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The end of civilization will be caused by: My insatiable appetite, which will lead me to eat every single edible thing on earth, leading to a world-wide food shortage and consequent mass extinction event.

 














01 // Steve Notte // stevenotte
02 // Steve Notte // stevenotte
03 // Steve Notte // stevenotte
04 // Drake Alexander // drake.alexander
05 // AJ Ragasa // cave.subject
06 // Cris Monts // cris.monts
07 // AJ Ragasa // cave.subject
08 // Raimee Miller // raimee.miller
09 // Mike Matos
10 // Dillon Ivory // dillon_ivory
11 // Mike Matos
12 // Mike Matos
13 // Ryan Cain // ryancainphoto
14 // Jon Duenas // jonduenas

 

Kseniya Sovenko // ksenyeah

 

JUNNNKTANK is an online zine which has existed in one form or another since 2006.
For over a decade, the focus has been on highlighting the efforts of inspiring individuals and artists from around the world.

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Submissions are always welcome to junk@junnnktank.com.