The month-long show Hold On Tightly, Let Go Lightly opened with a public reception on Dec. 2 featuring live music mixing by DJ D Jesua.
The photographs were selected by Voytcheff from her work spanning a 14-year period of worldwide travel. From her beginnings in North Vancouver, Voytcheff has traced a nomadic existence working as a press manager in the global event industry.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, she found herself stuck in a Dubai hotel room. “We couldn’t leave,” she recalled, “and I remember looking through some pictures of mine and thinking, ‘Oh, I wish I was here, I wish I was there.’ I started a small collection of images. And I decided they looked good together.” Hold On Tightly, Let Go Lightly is the result of her impromptu pandemic assemblage.
Voytcheff’s photography is wide-ranging in both subject matter and style. Landscapes from the arid Antipodean outback co-exist with candid, unforgiving portraiture. Her palette reaches from intimate black-and-white closeups of forest canopies to sand-blasted hues of blocky urban architecture.
Through her exaltation of commonplace scenes and everyday faces, Voytcheff’s art makes routine and rugged subjects reach for apotheosis.
Together, the photographs form a documentary record of a life spent questing for visceral experiences. After working at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, Voytcheff farmed for a year. “I found the subject matter to be really interesting to me,” she said. “I enjoyed the curiosity of taking different types of work in agriculture, working with livestock, wool production, horse breeding, and organic farming.”
She traveled to Haida Gwaii, taking a job in the commercial fishing industry. “There I got interesting work experience — and life experience as well,” she said.
Voytcheff’s emerging area of interest is people groups who live in remote communities and Indigenous communities distant from the commotion of metropolitan centres. Her intrigue stems from her experience with pastoral agriculture in Australia, and is also fuelled by questions about those who intentionally self-isolate.
“I want to know about them,” she said. “I want to know what drives them and motivates how their communities function. Are they lonely? Are they religious? That’s where I’m headed now in my photography.”
As a child, Voytcheff dreamed of becoming a cowboy. For a time, she made that dream a reality too. In her pursuit of compelling imagery, life has become a series of realized fantasies, she said.
“The more time that I spend doing these things the more I learn about myself, and I’m growing with and learning from other people who are so totally different from me,” said Voytcheff. “I feel like I’ve grown to be more compassionate and understanding as a result.”
Hold On Tightly, Let Go Lightly remains on display at The Kube until Jan. 1.