“When I became a parent, I had the idea to make a photographic book for children,” says Russian photographer Andrey Ivanov, who has won the Photobookfest Dummy prize. “I started to photograph subjects and images of Russian fairy tales. At first it was a series of purely staged photos, but then I began to notice that some of the documentary photos I found fitted perfectly into this fabulous series.
“The fairy tale is the most authentic source of Russian archetypes. As the saying goes: ‘A fairy tale is a lie – yet there is a hint in it, a good lesson to good fellows’. The viewer follows the photographic tracks of the main hero of the fairy tale, referring to the cultural codes of the collective unconscious, and guesses or recognises the fairy-tale images, or hints of them.”
Travelling to Kiev in the wake of protest, revolution and civil war, Belgian photographer David Denil set about documenting the aftermath of conflict in the minds of ordinary people still coming to terms with the country’s sharp divisions. The resulting series, Let Us Not Fall Asleep While Walking, departs from journalistic record, instead attempting to depict “the psychological state of this Ukraine looking at its future while haunted by its past and memory,” he says. “The images are metaphorical representations from the everyday life encountered where time seems frozen but dreams of hope still linger.”
Carolyn Drake first visited Ukraine more than a decade ago, as part of a year-long Fulbright fellowship investigation of changing notions of gender in the former USSR. Coming of age at the end of the Cold War, and with preconceptions about the region, she “saw it as a chance to step out of my present frame of reference, as a way to look at the malleability and impermanence of beliefs,” she recalls. Searching for expressions of female identity in the West of the country, she met the hosts of a church-run orphanage, who directed her to an older institution nearby called Petrykhiv Internat. Tucked away in a forest on the outskirts of Ternopil, it was a state-run boarding house, where around 70 girls marked as ill or disabled had been sent to live. Labelled abnormal, they had been deemed unfit to live beyond the home’s towering walls. That first trip took place in 2006; eight years later, she returned, eager to find out what had become of the girls and their home. “I expected to show up and ask someone on the staff how I could find the girls,” she says. “But when I arrived, I found most of them were still there, now in their twenties.
On 08 December 2013, the Bessarabska Lenin statue on Taras Shevchenko Boulevard in Ukraine was demolished in the midst of the Euromaidan revolution. What followed was a wave of symbolic violence that came to be known as Leninfall [or ‘Leninopad’ by Ukrainians]. Seeking to erase all traces of the Ukraine’s Soviet past, the government launched an official decommunisation process, outlawing communist monuments. Prior to these events around 5500 statues of Lenin stood in former Soviet state; today, not one remains. Fascinated by the fate of these statues, Swiss photographer Niels Ackermann and journalist Sébastien Gobert went on a quest to find them, documenting the results in the series Looking for Lenin. Published as a book last year, the series now going on show at Espace Images, Vevey.
A white painted stone sits atop a pile of concrete from a fallen telephone pole. A seemingly random assortment of rubble, it has in fact been gathered to fasten a manhole cover in place. During a period of particular hardship in Ukraine in the 1990s, manhole covers were often stolen and sold for scrap metal, leaving dangerous open holes in the road. This makeshift device, erected over time out of miscellaneous materials, is one of the objects in Viacheslav Poliakov’s Lviv – God’s Will, a taxonomy of the “unexplored field of accidents” that make up his surrounding urban environment.
This year marked the 100th anniversary to the October Revolution; the Bolshevik coup lead by Vladamir Lenin that would result in the Russian Civil War (1917-22) and, ultimately, the foundation of the USSR and the communist regime that lasted until 1991. In the BJP’s latest issue, we try to understand something of the vast history of the Eastern Bloc.
Global business developer for Magnum Photos and founder of Firecracker, Fiona Rogers picks out her top five from the Arles festival and its fringe events – the group show Iran, Year 38; Looking for Lenin by Niels Ackermann; The Incurable Egoist by Masahisa Fukase; Life in Cities by Michael Wolf; and The Island of the Colorblind by Sanne De Wilde
Born in Ukraine but now based in Berlin, Viktoria Sorochinski, a photographer and teacher, is documenting disappearing rural communities back home in her ongoing project, Lands of No-Return – which was recently shortlisted for the Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2017. Her personal connection to the villages comes from her childhood, which she spent enriching her imagination playing in the magical woods surrounding the house of her grandparents, who are now buried there.
As winter approached in late 2013, the rumblings of political, social and civil discontent in Ukraine was growing louder by the day. When Viktor Yanukovych, the nation’s president, rejected a deal with the European Union for a $15bn aid package from Russia, many citizens were furious. Promising greater political integration and closer cultural ties, lots of Ukrainians saw the EU deal as a new path for the country, whose economic predicament was worsening. On the 21st November, up to 20,000 protesters gathered in Kiev’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) after spreading messages on social media. By the 24th, their numbers had swelled – somewhere between 50,000 and 200,000, depending on who you asked. As pro-EU demonstrators chanted and marched, a small group attempted to storm the Government Building. That’s when the trouble really began. The wave of civil unrest flooded the streets, fuelled by a heady mix of Cold War-era hostilities, far-right opportunism and pan-European democratic idealism. What became known as Euromaidan led to the Ukrainian Revolution, with President Yanukovych being ousted from power in February …
In 2014 while working on a project about European population decline, Anastasia Taylor-Lind found herself in eastern Ukraine as protests against the government of Viktor Yanukovych gathered pace in the capital Kiev. Relocating to cover events in the Maidan or Independence Square she produced a series of portraits of those involved in the protests, which led to her first book, Portraits from the Black Square, published last year by GOST. The upheaval in Ukraine did not end with Yanukovych’s flight from the country, and Taylor-Lind felt compelled to keep telling stories in Ukraine. Returning to photograph in the increasingly restless east of the country proved to be an exasperating experience, however. “I felt a similar frustration in Maidan, I’d felt it in Libya and then I felt it again in the east. I wasn’t contributing anything to the documentation of what was happening there – I was just making pictures [that] already existed.” She describes feeling a “growing frustration about the way we tell war stories in the mass media, and I have been complicit in this. I think …