Hanne Zaruma is no ordinary tech nerd. Rather than coveting the latest iPhone, the Ukrainian artist sees beauty in the gadgets of yesteryear, fastidiously scouring secondhand stores and yard sales in Lviv, her hometown, for retro computers and discarded flip phones. “I make all of my work from used stuff that everyone has forgotten about,” says Zaruma, who uses these found objects to embellish vintage shoes and handbags. “I am trying to give it a new life.”
Zaruma’s Instagram page is filled with these curious technological fashion creations. Think a shoulder bag affixed with the remnants of a Nokia phone, statement earrings made from shards of a motherboard, or shoes covered with the keys of an old computer fished out from the artist’s storage closet. On her Instagram, she has posted videos of herself “typing” on the computerized accessories with a nearby iPhone seemingly registering her words. (The video on the iPhone is actually prerecorded, a clever optical illusion.) “With my work I want to show that it is not necessary to have money to make art,” says Zaruma, 21, who enlists friends and family to model as well as orchestrating her own selfies.
A law student by day, the artist began experimenting with her quirky designs about a year ago while living between Ukraine and China and working as a model. Rather surprisingly, one of the first pieces to ignite interest on Instagram was actually inspired by the natural world: a pair of jeans covered entirely in autumnal leaves.
Though equally as conceptual, her latest works have proven to be more future-thinking and include sunglasses partially fashioned from an iPhone screen that displays an image of a human eye. “A human face is interesting, it’s already a piece of art,” she says. “The message of my work is to allow viewers to see some magic in the ordinary—and also to make them smile.”