Latvian-born Viktoria Modesta, who posed herself as a prototype to a new idea of pop star – the “world’s first bionic pop artist”, took our pre conceptions of what a pop artist could be. She treats her amputeeism as empowering, as part of her artistic expression which can thrill and influence – not an accident of nature which demands sympathy.
The video, part of Channel 4’s Born Risky initiative, smashes the stigma surrounding power and sexuality in people with disabilities. “Prototype” directed by music video mastermind Saam Farahmand, showcases Modesta, sensual and strong as she dances, stomps, and writhes to the pulsating electro-pop tune, equipped with a variety of artistic, bespoke prosthetic limbs designed by The Alternative Limb Project. Her look is distinctively sultry – reminiscent of Dita von Teese – pale skin framed by raven hair and page boy bangs, with a girlish air that still oozes sex appeal. In the striking opening scene, clad in Vivienne Westwood clothing, Viktoria struts elegantly while wearing a knee-high black metal spike. Later in the video an inspired girl watching Viktoria’s superhero cartoon and yank off her doll’s leg so that it will better resemble her favorite pop star, before fast-cut scenes of revolution depict a Viktoria Modesta-ruled future.
Modesta, who had a below-the-knee amputation at the age of 20 after difficulties at birth, said: “For a long time, pop culture closed its doors on me as an amputee and alternative artist. 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.”
Contrary to the reality of the music industry, Modesta pursued a career in music and modelling. Her image has been featured in London’s National Portrait Gallery, she’s modeled for Milan Fashion Week, been featured in Harper’s Bazaar and InStyle, and worked with luminaries like Vivienne Westwood. Still, Modesta considers the highlight of her career performing at the Paralympic Games Closing Ceremony, a performance in which she sung her heart out to a billion people.
Viktoria’s goal has been to integrate marginal voices into the mainstream conversation without courting sympathy or victimisation. It’s something that we admire, as a differently-abled pop star, embracing her differences, making her prosthetics her signature accessory, and rocking out with her bionic girl self. She’s seriously shaking up the pop scene and in the absolute fiercest, most inspiring way possible. (Text Teuku Ajie)
Photography Ewelina Stechnij
Styling Joanna Hir
Hair and Make-Up Hadeel Tal
Model Viktoria Modesta