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When Amputation Frees You to Become the Person You Want to Be 

Posted by Bryan Potok, CPO on

Dubbed a “bionic pop artist,” performance artist, pop star, DJ, and model Viktoria Modesta is challenging preconceived notions of being a person living with a disability.

 Performance artist, pop star, DJ, and model Viktoria Modesta posing while using a fashion forward spike shaped prosthesis.

The Road to Freedom

For most of her childhood until late teens, Modesta spent countless days in the hospital, undergoing reconstructive surgeries that aimed to save her left leg, which was injured during birth.

In her late teens, she convinced doctors to amputate her leg below the knee. She finally felt able to move forward with her life, describing the experience as feeling “free to become the person she was aching to be.”

Art Turns Her Life Around

One of the turning points in her life happened in 2014. Modesta collaborated with the Alternative Limb Project to help design a series of prostheses that she wore in a Channel 4 video.       

The video was featured during a commercial break of the same year’s “X Factor” finale. The video was called “Prototype,” and it featured Modesta dancing while wearing a prosthesis shaped like a spike. It was a visually arresting, fashion-forward experience.

The video immediately went viral and is considered a touchstone for those looking to recast how society perceives disabilities. To date, “Prototype” has more than 12 million views.

After the video soared to international acclaim, Modesta received numerous offers from managers and agents. However, she realized that—although she loved making music—pop music was not the right path for her. 

After turning down the "pop route," Modesta joined the MIT Media Lab in 2015—a program that invites innovators from disparate areas of expertise to collaborate—as a director’s fellow. It was during this time that she met her boyfriend, Benjamin Palmer, whose expertise lay in entertainment marketing.

Living a Life Inspired by Art 

Now 30, the avant-garde performance artist, model, singer, and science enthusiast relocated to Los Angeles. For Modesta, the city represents the perfect intersection of her many interests.

In 2018, Modesta made her presence felt in the vibrant city with a performance during Lucha VaVoom’s Halloween spectacular at the Mayan Theatre. 

What do you think about the continuing conversation of shifting preconceived notions of physical beauty? Please share your thoughts with the community in the comments section below.
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  • Thank you Cynthia! Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you think I can help in any way.

    Bryan P on

  • I am currently struggling with making a life now with a prosthetic. I am a BK amputee and I realize some people have worse challenges than I do but yet…
    I wrote and self-published a book “Journey in a Wheelchair” showing people how to do things in a wheelchair (cook, clean house, etc) but my next book will be about struggling with limb loss and prosthetics. I hope to help others by sharing how my life changed and how I handled the new circumstances. I read all your posts. You have helped me tremendously, Bryan, through it all! Thank you! Cynthia Cartaya

    Cynthia Cartaya on

  • It’s inspiring, knowing she can move on and become the person she aspires

    Valencia Ferdinand on

  • I found myself saying “Yes!” when reading this article. No, I’m not going to become a model or actress but I am in the process of training my dog so that we can compete in obedience and other sports. I dealt with foot wounds, MRSA and other problems with my left foot from 2008 to 2018 when the doctors agreed to amputate my foot. It was so freeing. No longer was I fighting to do the smallest thing. Now, I am back to work with my dogs. We hope to start competing next spring. Sometimes it’s better to lose something if what you gain makes you happier and your life richer.

    Alicia Graybill on

  • My body was damaged at 6 years of age, the amputations didn’t happen till 40 years later and greatly improved my level of pain and life.

    Cliff Newman on

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