Exposure: Sasha Arutyunova

Following an upbringing split between Russia and the US, Sasha Arutyunova uses photography to help create connection and intimacy. Gem Fletcher speaks to her about her practice

“Photography played a big role in my life growing up,” explains Sasha Arutyunova. “It was a way to make meaning out of my experience. It offered this real and tangible directness at a time when my life felt hard to grasp, and my surroundings were changing all the time.”

The New York-based artist, who is a finalist in the Aperture Portfolio Prize this year, is known for her intimate and cinematic work. She moved to Florida from Moscow when she was six and her hybrid upbringing divided her between “two continents and two contentious governments”, creating a sense of mystery between the artist and her multigenerational ancestry.

Arutyunova returned to Russia every year to spend time with her father and wider family. While the trips were not without challenges _ the discombobulating nature of switching cultures and customs – they shaped a deep appreciation for a nomadic way of life that remains a critical element of her storytelling and creative practice.

Top and above: From the series Wind and Other Dangers. All images: © Sasha Arutyunova