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In Paris: Alexey Shlyk shows off DIY culture in Belarus

From the series The Appleseed Necklace © Alexey Shlyk

Exploring up-cycling in the Soviet Era and today, The Appleseed Necklace is on show at Paris Photo and at the Gare du Nord

Taking inspiration from the DIY culture of his homeland during the Soviet era, Belarusian photographer Alexey Shlyk’s series of playfully staged photographs explores craftsmanship and resourcefulness. On one level, the work celebrates the people’s creativity at a time of constant shortages, when, as Shlyk says, “one either had to find a way to snatch what was needed or make it out of accessible materials”.

But The Appleseed Necklace, which takes its title from a piece of jewellery that his grandmother made, is also about the importance of re-purposing and recycling items in the present day. “The series relates to what’s going on now and [the trend for] up-cycling,” Shlyk told BJP for our March issue.

“I think it’s important not to throw things away but instead to restore, re-work, repair. Although this is more often seen in domestic decorations, I am trying to show something that was once a vital necessity.”

From the series The Appleseed Necklace © Alexey Shlyk

Shlyk began work on the project towards the end of 2015, mostly working in Belgium where he is studying for an MA at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp. He worked with friends as well as people he met on the street who fitted his vision for a particular image, photographing them alongside props that he had either assembled or broken and then remade.

Sometimes working from sketches he’d made beforehand, Shlyk carefully staged his images and chose warm colours and soft lighting to give them the impression of a hazy memory. Even so, he also embraced a degree of spontaneity while shooting. “It’s important the images feel as though they are of the moment, even though I refer to my memories and nostalgic feelings for things I have seen and heard in the past – events that I have participated in,” he says.

“I feel it’s important to talk to the world about my culture via photography; I hope that I can reach an audience through my, sometimes funny, photographs.”

alexeyshlyk.com Alexey Shlyk is one of four students selected to show work at Gare du Nord and at Paris Photo in the Carte Blanche Students project http://programme.parisphoto.com/en/detail,carte_blanche_students_2017.htm?zoom=D189E0B6-5A81-6E13-83D1-03B1473E0522 This article was first published in the March 2017 issue of BJP, which is available via www.thebjpshop.com

From the series The Appleseed Necklace © Alexey Shlyk

From the series The Appleseed Necklace © Alexey Shlyk