Natural Talent

Oli Kellett has discovered the Olympic team that will surely be taking every gold medal at this year's games. If only they were real. London based photographer and ex-advertising creative Oli Kellett came up with the idea to create a team of naturally talented Olympic athletes last year just as games craze was taking over his city. The country of Vodkovia will be participating in the games for the first time this year, as their president Alexei, Father of All Vodkovians, announced at a presentation by Kellett in December. Alexei proclaimed, "There is a saying in my country: Be the best or have your house repossessed. We will see you on the podiums." ON the podiums -- that's right, Team Vodkovia will be sweeping that award ceremony! Born and bred in the UK, Kellett graduated from St. Martins Art College in 2005 and then began his career as an advertising creative. He contributed to campaigns for major companies including Playstation and McDonalds, and his work was nominated for a series of different awards -- but his passion was elsewhere. He hopped between a few different agencies throughout the three year stint, but then in 2008 took the plunge and became a full time artist. Having spent time in the industry before flying solo, it seems he built up a solid network of contacts to help with his work. This project specifically involved retouchers, writers, directors and more. When the idea came to him it was just a long legged man on a bicycle, but the organic evolution -- helped by various collaborations along the way -- has allowed it to expand into so much more. The characters are all proportioned in a surrealistic manner that is matched with their Olympic event. Goran Goulash, the swimmer, has massive hands to help propel him through the water. Agnastazia Dariuscz, the archer, has giant eyes to help her shoot from a serious distance. Viktor Povlanski, the wrestler, was blessed with an extra set of arms. Pure domination on the mat. Oh and the synchronized swimmers! Siamese twins, one set of two, one set of four, all named with a K: Karolina, Katorina, Katholina, Katalonia, Katherina and Karina. And that's just the beginning. The super human athletes are presented in campaign poster style and their exaggerated, tailor made features? Kellett cites Huxley's Brave New World a dystopian novel that explores selective, specialized breeding. Olympic athletes by nature must possess talent, endurance and perseverance -- and Kellett's athletes have all that and more as provided by the retoucher Kai from The Operators. Kai switched and swapped body parts until physical perfection was accomplished. To create some buzz about the project, Kellet, Kai, Konstantinos Kanellopoulos (the writer & designer) and Kostja Paschalidis (web specialist) put together a mailer for art buyers and other creatives in the industry. By the way -- it seems this team would be perfect for the synchronized swimming event as they fit the all K prerequisite. The Team Vodkovia campaign was launched in December and Kellett was joined by the country's president, who delivered a rousingly enthused speech. The stunt was well received and Kellett's goal is for the idea to keep growing. He mentions in an interview with Feature Shoot that his marker of success will be when the posters escape the art world and are published in non-art magazines, "It would be great if the project could cross over into the ‘real’ sports world as a bit of fun. That’s when I will consider the project to be a success." That was the whole goal of this project to begin with -- to bring some levity and fun into the oft too serious world of professional sports. And as Kellett celebrates the historic games, he's also bringing a satirical edge that is both majorly memorable and very endearing. There is no underlying message -- except perhaps to play on the idolization of professional athletes -- instead the project is a curated series of portraits and group shots meant for pure entertainment. [caption id="attachment_9076" align="aligncenter" width="268" caption="President Alexei, Father of All Vodkovians"][/caption] Possibly the most entertaining part of the whole project is the incredibly detailed Team Vodkovia website that was put together by Kostja Paschalidis. Written and designed by Konstantinos Kanellopolos, it includes the history of Vodkovia, bios on all the athletes, the country's anthem and even a gift shop! You could buy a deflated basketball used by Tomasz! Or a hairbrush used by the synchronized twins -- hair included! Or even a test tube filled with Victor's dirty piss, the naughty wrestler had some trouble passing his drug tests this year. Unfortunately, it's all sold out. Everything. The fascinating history of the country explains that the life span in Vodkovia is 82 for women and 39 for men. Their natural talents are actually natural disasters caused by "lethal Y-chromosome mutations." Not ones for negativity though, the Vodkovians see the mutations as a "proud genetic badge" and the sign of being a true Vodkovian. So much so that any man that lives beyond the age of 45 is automatically excluded from political office. And with that we will leave you with the Vodkovian national anthem: United we split the atom, united we split the gene O proud Vodkovians, we raise our shot glasses In the name of Father Alexei Who gave us life and limbs [caption id="attachment_9070" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Kvista Katjeva - Gymnastics"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_9071" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Roman Dimentiev - Weightlifting "][/caption] [caption id="attachment_9072" align="aligncenter" width="336" caption="The Synchronized Swimmers"] [caption id="attachment_9073" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Agnastazia Darivscz - Archery"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_9074" align="aligncenter" width="752" caption="Goran Goulash - Swimming"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_9075" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Tomasz Skalextrik - Basketball"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_9077" align="aligncenter" width="511" caption="Vodkovian Online Shop - ALL SOLD OUT!"][/caption] Team Vodkovia credits Photographer: Oli Kellett Retoucher: Kai Writer & Designer: Konstantinos Kanellopoulos Website: Kostja Paschalidis To see more of Oli Kellett's work visit his website