The Many Faces of Ukrainian Photography Today

Winford Hunter

PHILADELPHIA — Ukrainian Photography These days, although little (it features 23 illustrations or photos in all), packs quite a punch. Organized by Irina Glik, a Ukrainian-American photographer and author from Kyiv, and the Print Center’s curator, Ksenia Nouril, the exhibit features function by 4 female photographers from unique locations of Ukraine.

Most of the functions on watch forged a backward look at the 8-12 months-extended armed conflict that was a prelude to Russia’s whole-scale, brutal invasion of Ukraine final February.

Some popular themes echo throughout the clearly show — a lookup for countrywide and personalized id childhood, youth, and motherhood in wartime decline and reconnection — but the exhibition is fewer an exploration of a unified motif than a illustration of the distinct conceptual and aesthetic frameworks in which artists are operating in today’s Ukraine.

Alena Grom, “Ancestral Ward. Donbas. Selidovo / Entrance to the Cemetery. Donbas. Novotroitsk,” from the collection Pendulum (2018)

War is omnipresent in impressive diptychs by Alena Grom, a documentary photographer who was born in Donetsk and fled the Donbas region in 2014. Each and every photograph shows the formalist detachment of someone who has been made an outsider in her very own land, mixed with the deep sympathy and identification of a native who has viewed Russia’s destruction and cruel repression of her have region and people today. The diptychs, from the series Pendulum, pair an picture of a wartime destroy with a child’s portrait. The just one exception is a bleak Soviet-era medical center ward set in opposition to an image of an Orthodox cemetery. The cemetery’s rounded, blue-green gate echoes the ward’s metallic bed in condition and colour — the two silent tableaux hinting at the interconnection that exists concerning their spaces.

Yelena Yemchuk’s perform is an immigrant’s like letter to Odesa. Yemchuk still left her indigenous Kyiv for the United States in the early 1980s and traveled to Ukraine thoroughly immediately after the Maidan revolution to doc Odessan youth — youngsters going through armed service teaching, young lovers, children hunting for them selves in a region hunting for a new, post-Soviet identity. Her images read like film stills: they beckon viewers to tease out the even larger stories and life coiled inside of their frozen milliseconds. 

Yelena Yemchuk, “Lera,” from the collection Odesa (2016)

Kateryna Yermolaeva turns inward to discover her very own conflicting polyphony of what she calls her “sub-personalities”: nine avatars — females, males, nonbinary persons, little ones — each with a distinctive name, character attributes, gown, and props that embody some aspect of the artist’s everyday living. The undertaking is the two a self-inquiry and an attempt to uncover deeper resonances in between one’s fractured inner landscape and the myriad aspects of Ukraine’s collective psyche. 

Oksana Parafeniuk bridges decades of time in a single impression. In a sequence entitled Wooden Box of Pictures, the artist fuses her have family’s black and white Soviet-period photos with modern-working day portraits of a Ukrainian household displaced by the war. Embedding the displaced family associates, who have just lately misplaced their household, into pictures of her individual distant loved ones earlier, she shelters the refugees in the nooks and crannies of memory. The now and then occur into intimate speak to to reveal a story about one’s roots, uprootedness, and the power of connection across time.

Kateryna Yermolaeva, “Edik,” from the series Me, Myself, and I (2018)

Ukrainian Images Today continues at The Print Heart (1614 Latimer Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) through November 12. The exhibition was curated by Dr. Ksenia Nouril with Irina Glik as exhibition advisor.

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