As part of Channel 4's ongoing Born Risky campaign, a new promo for singer Viktoria Modesta will be aired during the final of ITV's The X Factor this Sunday. Aimed as a stylish antidote to the ideals of the modern pop world, Modesta's prosthetic leg is a difference that C4 hopes will challenge viewer's perceptions...
Modesta was born in the USSR and suffered damage to her left leg at birth; aged 12 she and her family moved to London and at 20 she made the decision to undergo a below-the-knee amputation which would improve her mobility. Since then she has worked as a model, artist and musician (her EP1 was released in 2010) and performed at the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games in London in 2012.
"Pop stars these days are painfully dull and manufactured," says Chris Bovill of C4's creative agency, 4Creative. "[Viktoria] is the perfect partner for Born Risky and Channel 4 as she embodies our governmental remit of championing alternative voices and establishing new talent."
The video for the track Prototype – the six-minute film version is shown below – forms the latest in 4Creative's campaign to challenge stereotypes. In 2012, it launched the stirring Paralympics campaign, Meet the Superhumans, and also worked with ‘bearlesque' act Fred Bear in creating the song Gay Mountain that wished athletes good luck at the start of the Sochi Winter Games in Russia.
According to Modesta, the new video has given her the chance to express some of her more extreme ideas and continue in her fight against being categorised. Along with the video's director, Saam Farahmand, Modesta achieved these aims with the help of Sophie de Oliveira Barata at The Alternative Limb Project – a fascinating venture which creates bespoke, often highly artistic, prosthetic limbs for clients.
In the 'making of' film, shown below, de Oliveira Barata explains how she created two bespoke limbs for Modesta – one that lights up and has an exposed mechanism (see above), and another that is essentially an elegant spike which Modesta equates to a kind of power dressing.
The latter design appears towards the end of the Prototype film in a sequence that brilliantly combines dance, colour and sound design to dramatic effect.
"For a long time, pop culture closed its doors on me as an amputee and alternative artist," Modesta explains. "I think people have always found it hard to know what to think or feel about an amputee who wasn't trying to be an Olympian."
"In sports, ‘overcoming' a disability makes you a hero, but in pop there is no place for these feelings," she adds. "I have never felt comfortable thinking of myself as disabled and this has inspired me to actively challenge old-fashioned views and create a platform in mainstream pop-culture, with other artists, where I have always known I belonged. The time for boring ethical discussions around disability is over. It's only through feelings of admiration, aspiration, curiosity and envy that we can move forward."
Director Farahmand was keen that Modesta also be shown in the film without her prosthetic limb and believes that the new video challenges many conventions. "Like Viktoria, it bores me that the only way an amputee can be relevant is to achieve something that people easily understand," he says. "Culture currently dictates that we view disability from a position of wholesome admiration and empathy."
The 'making of' Prototype film is below. A version of the Prototype video (above) will screen in an ad break during The X Factor final this Sunday night on ITV (in the UK). See viktoriamodesta.com
Creative Heads: Chris Bovill & John Allison
Group Business Director: Olivia Browne
Exec & 4 Creative Producer: Miketta Lane
Producer: Nicola Brown
Production Company: Rogue Films
Director: Saam Farahmand
Rogue Producer: Kate Hitchings
Music Director: Pitch & Sync
Written by Roy Kerr, Hero and Viktoria Modesta
Director - Liz Unna
Producer - Amy James
Production Company - HSI London