We all live with societal stigmas and stereotypes that can limit opportunities and create mental and physical barriers that don’t allow us to conform to society’s expected norms. Viktoria Modesta is a boundary-breaking performance artist and singer who has made it her mission to challenge these stigmas through her groundbreaking work. Viktoria uses her prosthetic leg, artistically decorated and designed to be a performance piece in its own right, not only to perform incredible feats but to inspire a conversation about the beauty and strength of differently-abled people. With her fearless attitude and unapologetic approach, she’s making a significant impact on the world around her and breaking down barriers along the way.
Following an accident at birth that affected her left leg’s growth, Viktoria spent years seeking ways to modify her mobility. After being inspired by creative cult imagery, she amputated her leg in 2007, taking control over her body and paving the way for her soon-to-be stardom in the alt-pop world. Her bold vision of the future and love for fashion, surrealism, and performance art has made her a well-known figure in the media. With her music videos and visual aesthetic, Viktoria is changing how people view beauty and breaking down the traditional norms of what a pop star should look like.
A forward-thinking pop music artist, Viktoria believes that with new technologies and advancements, the value we hold extends beyond the physical body, and these developments are creating a level playing field for every individual, regardless of physical abilities. “Anything can be beautiful. Anything can be fascinating,“ Viktoria shares, “And if society isn’t ready for you, then make it ready. The world is moving forward because change is inevitable. We might as well be the ones galvanizing and steering that change instead of passively letting it simply happen to us.” This idea is evident in her unique NFT launches, mind-altering music videos, and tireless work promoting disability in STEM, art, and design spaces.
Aside from her music career, Viktoria has also had a successful modeling career and has worked with big brands such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Offering something different to the way brands can be perceived, her distinctive presence has been part of a changing landscape in what represents beauty. “I’ve always seen myself as a character that I created, an entity that comes with a whole world of values and style. My love of fashion, surrealism, and performance art landed me in front of (and behind) the camera. Unlike when I was starting out, celebrating your uniqueness has value with the rise of models like Ugly Worldwide, Tess Holliday, Impossible Muse, Winnie Harlow, and the more left-field musicians like Sevdalisa and Eartheater,” states Viktoria.
Viktoria also had the opportunity to sing and DJ at several fashion shows in London and Milan Fashion Weeks, further highlighting her multi-faceted approach to finding representation in the industry. Some of her favorite career moments to date have been her collaborations with virtual fashion, her avatar with DressX and TIME Magazine, and her star-studded art film and ad campaigns for Rolls Royce Black Badge.
Viktoria has also tapped into the unexpected as an ambassador for Mission: AstroAccess to fly in zero-gravity missions while field-testing a lower leg prosthetic specifically designed for use in microgravity. This has been the area of her career that has been the most meaningful as she reshapes the narrative of expectations placed upon her. “Participating in the storytelling, creative direction, or even curating some of the team in projects makes things feel more authentic. I like to bring people into my world,” she says.
Regarding the fashion brands that have been groundbreaking yet fashionable in Viktoria’s eyes, she believes that the fashion industry doesn’t take enough risks. From these experiences, she’s learned that “the biggest step brands can take towards pushing the needle on inclusivity is product design.” However, she is impressed with Pangaia for its sustainability efforts and sees the brand as a leader in pushing new science and technology to create sustainable products.
With a growing list of accolades, including winning the Silver Lion Award at the Cannes Film Festival for her 2014 music video Prototype, performing at the London 2012 Paralympics Closing Ceremony, 2022 Super Bowl, Art Basel Miami, and the 2022 True Colors Festival in Tokyo, Viktoria continues to change not only the mentality but the science around what is possible for the future of representation and inclusivity.
Viktoria admires Rick Owens for constantly engaging with subculture artists and bringing that to the spotlight. On her part, Viktoria has grown to view her body as not something to look away from but instead something to find beauty, risk, and inspiration from while empowering many others to do the same. “I love to lead by example and thrive on radical energy to experiment and shatter expectations,” she says.
Viktoria sees herself as “an innovator, risk-taker, optimist, and curious mind,” and her trailblazing mindset is encouraging the worlds of fashion, science, and technology to think outside the box before categorizing everyone. With her bold vision of the future, Viktoria is changing how people view beauty and creating a level playing field for every individual, regardless of physical abilities.