Viktoria Modesta has forged a unique and empowering identity as a singer, model, and performance artist since emerging on the London scene in 2008. Born in Latvia during the end of the Cold War, she struggled during childhood, enduring numerous failed procedures to correct her dislocated left leg and hip, an affliction she’d suffered since birth. In the late ’90s her family immigrated to Britain, where her physical disability continued to plague her throughout her teenage years. At the age of 20 she underwent voluntary surgery to amputate her leg below the knee. The operation turned out to be a positive and life-altering event, and with the aid of advanced prosthetics, Modesta returned to her fledgling career in fashion and music with a renewed vigor, turning her disability into a sort of personal symbol and challenging society’s modern perception of physical beauty.
Returning to her music school roots, she paired with songwriter Nik Hodges to collaborate on a set of brassy, club-oriented pop songs that would comprise her 2010 release EP1. Immersing herself in the fashion scene and creating her image as a distinct and cutting-edge artist and personality, she began working with forward-thinking prosthetic designers at the Alternative Limb Project to push the envelope of art, fashion, and utility. She soon began appearing in photos and videos sporting a variety of unusual leg designs. Her performance at the 2012 Paralympic Closing Ceremonies alongside Coldplay was a deciding moment, branding her as an icon for challenging the views of disability and sexuality. In 2014 she built on this image, working with London’s Channel 4 to debut the video for her song “Prototype.” Accompanied by the tagline “Born Risky,” the provocative video featured Modesta performing with a number of bizarre prosthetics like a black spike, a glowing neon lamp, and a jewel-encrusted leg, bolstering her claim as the world’s first amputee pop star.