Viktoria Modesta thinks of herself as a prototype. Born in Soviet Russia, where an accident at birth left her with a defect in her left leg, she spent her childhood in a great deal of pain. Reconstructive surgeries didn’t help, so when she was 20 and living in London, she decided to get a voluntary amputation below the knee. The operation freed Modesta to pursue her art: She sings in multimedia pop acts, and she rocks a different prosthesis depending on the performance. As the Snow Queen in the 2012 London Paralympics closing ceremony, she wore a limb covered in Swarovski diamonds. “That’s when I understood the concept of working on this futuristic identity and how limitless it could be,” she says. “It’s easy to transcend what you think makes a human body.” In conjunction with the fall release of her new album, Counterflow, Modesta teamed up with neuroscientists, coders, and clothing designers for a show at Berlin’s Music Tech Fest, where she used 3-D-printed nails and sensors on her wrists to trigger sound effects and shifts in lighting on her skin. Her most stunning work, though, might be the music video for her single “Prototype.” In one scene, moths flutter around her electric prosthesis as it lights up a dark room. In another, she catwalks across the screen with her favorite leg, a jet-black cone that sharpens to a daunting spike. It symbolizes everything Modesta stands for: arresting beauty with an exquisite edge.
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