January can be a funny month – the first week or so can be filled with summer-y exploits of festivals, swimming, holidays and excess, before the realisation seeps in that reality is inching back and routine returns. That can mean valuing those moments to fit in as much as possible in small windows to avoid the dread of the mundane. But January can also be a month to be kind to yourself, to soak in the sun and soak in culture in the form of movies, books and digital content, setting the tone for your year and obsessions. For this month’s recap we asked our friend, photographer and multi-hyphenate Sofiya Romanenko to fill us in on what has captured her imagination in the opening weeks of 2022 – from documentaries to exhibitions, Instagram inspiration to new music, its a great list of must-sees, must-hears and must-dos…
Movie – Moments Like This Never Last by Cheryl Dunn
They say that time goes faster the older we get, which must mean I’m at least 95 years old, since January seemed to have lasted for only about a week, with a year’s worth of mental exhaustion.
Having succumbed to the holiday blues brought upon the cumbersome reflections on the year just gone, I spent the better time of the month splayed in front of a telly, eventually stumbling upon a true gem – Moments Like This Never Last, a hard-hitting documentary about Dash Snow who turned his self-destruction into art and his art into self-destruction.
The moment it opened with LCD Soundsystem’s song New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down, I knew I was in for something very special. An hour and a half-long depiction of a raw, wild, confronting talent mixed with saddening reality of observing someone plunge deep into the dark well of their addiction brought upon some bitter reflections on the price of self-expression, but also an overwhelming wave of inspiration to create, create, create, which is everything I could ask for from a movie like this.
Books – Ariel & Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
Back in the day I used to be a notoriously avid reader, consuming every bit of literature my little hands could reach. Many years later, my attention span has adjusted itself to the length of Instagram captions, my hands remained just as little, and while I may not be able to do anything about the latter, re-introducing myself to the writers I held near and dear all that time ago became a great gateway back to proper reading.
In light of that, I have apparently mentioned the influence Sylvia Plath and her Bell Jar had on the coming-of-age feminine turmoil I experienced as a teenager to people often enough to receive her Unabridged Diaries and collection of poems Ariel as gifts this year. Exploring her work from a perspective of a somewhat mature adult as opposed to an insolent youth has definitely opened a whole new level of relatability when it comes to the experience of perceived womanhood, and given that I can finally do it in Plath’s native language too has brought a newly-found appreciation for her morbid sense of humour and immersive style, even when she’s describing the most mundane snippets of her life.
Music – Jackie Down The Line by Fontaines D.C.
If you were to pull a headphone out of my ear in the past two weeks to see what I’m listening to, there’d be a 99% chance it’s Jackie Down The Line by Fontaines D.C.
The monotonous recital of haunting lyrics over a sombre, almost uncomfortable tune absolutely consumed me the moment the song came out, feeding into my obsession with Fontaines D.C.’s anxious style of music that I grew so fond of when I first discovered them about a year ago. What makes it even more great is the fact that this is the first single from their upcoming album Skinty Fia, which explores the topic of one’s morphing and fading cultural identity when moving away from home – something I can relate to deeply, being a Russian immigrant of five years. Also, one of the songs on the record is called Nabokov, who happens to be one of my favourite Russian writers, so anticipation is palpable.
“What good is happiness to me / If I’ve to wield it carefully?”
Art – Nick Robinson’s LINWOOD at Absolution
My general approach to life is to expect as little as possible so I can be delighted if good things do happen and not particularly disappointed if they don’t. Which is why when I learned that not only there’s a show happening in January – one of the slowest months of the year for this type of thing – , but it’s also by one of my favourite local photographers Nick Robinson, I bee-lined for Absolution as soon as his work was up.
Shooting in a similar style, I really enjoyed seeing locations I recognised and even captured myself presented in a way that was different to how I viewed them, fresh, puzzling. The rubbish bins, decaying buildings, awkward angles – a familiar aesthetic with a tasteful, or, depending on the type of person you are, questionable spin. Definitely worth checking out.
For a while now I’ve been really drawn to collaging, creating work using vintage magazines, found photos and digital software, so a lot of my inspiration comes from artists creating in a similar genre of grotty-fetishy-morbid goodness which could have come straight from some shitty 80s punk zine.
The standouts in this long long line up of artists are @houseof_dame, @nilultra, @foiegraphics and @piperferrari_, with a special shout out to @ukfetisharchive for a great collection of vintage kinky imagery.
What things inspired you in January 2022 – let us know!
Follow Sofiya on Instagram at @chchasti