Meet David Uzochukwu, the photographer behind FKA twigs’ Dream Warrior issue
Austrian photographer David Uzochukwu captures human vulnerability in seemingly limitless, open spaces. His images find balance somewhere between a dizzying sense of liberation and fragility – nestled within several of his landscapes, somewhere, is a single nude figure, curled inwards and resting. Though he focuses on natural settings, Uzochukwu’s visions of nature and its expansive power contain an element of fantasy.
Splitting his time between Brussels and Paris, the now 18-year-old photographer first picked up the camera around the age of 11. Earning accolades from EyeEm and Flickr at just 15, Uzochukwu’s visual trajectory has transitioned from early self-portraits to shooting a Nike campaign with FKA twigs and, now, the second issue of her Instagram digizine AVANTgarden.
Titled Dream Warrior and displayed via Instagram’s slide function, the images retain Uzochukwu’s surreal aesthetic. Below, we catch up with the photographer to discuss what Dream Warrior means to him, his attraction to nature and what the future holds.
What are some of the main themes that thread through your work?
I think I’ve narrowed them down to wonder and vulnerability. Being in touch with your emotions gives you a strength that fascinates me. And then I’m constantly in awe at the beauty and cruelty of life.
Are there any pivotal moments in your life that have significantly influenced your style?
Everything that shapes me as a person is going to influence my work; the reflection of that is super interesting. But I can hardly pinpoint singular moments.
Your images largely wrap around wide and vivid landscapes. Why are you drawn to nature in your work?
The untouched aspect of it draws me in. There’s raw energy in nature, but still a lot of space to project onto. It’s alive and pure.
How did you manage to break into the music and fashion industries with your photography? And how did you first get in touch with FKA twigs?
Matthew Josephs is part of the answer to both questions. I’d dabbled in fashion and worked with a few musicians, but he knows people! And that groundwork led to new opportunities. I shot a Nike campaign with twigs that opened a lot of doors.
Can you talk us through the process of photographing FKA twigs’ digizine? Where did the ideas begin from and how did they come to fruition?
twigs wanted to make a second issue of AVANTgarden around these pyjamas she’s making, and the initial idea was an endless bed space, similar to an early self-portrait of mine. I just tried to give the concept my own twist.
What does ‘Dream Warrior’ mean to you?
It makes me think of twigs – she defends her creative vision ferociously. I love that. It’s so uplifting.
Are there any parallels you can draw between twigs’ work and yours?
Vulnerability and a certain surreal element are something we share, maybe. Her work is a lot sexier than mine, I’m working on that.
You’ve said in a previous interview that you want your work to aim to change something. What kind of difference are you trying to make through your images?
Apart from just getting those images out of my mind – brighten someone’s day, maybe.
What are your plans for the future?
Make a lot more work. Learn constantly. Have as much fun as possible.