Photo: Mykhaylo Palinchak: Military exercises for civilians, Kyiv 6 February, 2022. Featured in the first online exhibition from Ukraininan. Photographies.
Redeye is pleased to be a promoting partner for a new venture, Ukraininan. Photographies (U.P), which supports the Ukrainian photography community and shows the work of a wide range of photographers in Ukraine, especially those affected by the war. We talked to U.P’s founders, Max Gorbatskyi and Viktoria Bavykina, about the background and purpose of the organisation.
REDEYE: Can you tell us a bit more about how you came to set up Ukrainian. Photographies - why it is needed, and how does it work for you running the project from the UK?
MAX & VIKTORIA, UKRAINIAN. PHOTOGRAPHIES: Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, many of our colleagues working in the field of culture in Ukraine began to ask themselves what they can do in this new reality. It became necessary to review the established work practices and find opportunities to best use the knowledge and opportunities we have to help the country and society in general.
Before moving to the UK in the autumn of 2021, we worked for a long time in Ukraine on creating various projects in the field of photography, had a wide circle of acquaintances and generally a good understanding of the photographic sector, so it seemed logical to us to try to work in this direction. After several years of Covid, the online format of work already seems familiar, so the organisation of the project online seemed quite natural to us. U.P (Ukrainian Photographies) is important for us for several reasons (we hope not only for us): it is an opportunity to make, in these extremely difficult times for Ukraine, our small contribution to the visibility, articulation, and popularisation of Ukrainian culture, and to introduce representatives of the art sector of other countries to it. It was important for us to do a project that is not closed in on itself. It is important that Ukrainian culture speaks for itself, but we also thought it would be beneficial if someone else would talk about Ukrainian culture with us - for the sake of dialogue, cooperation and support.
REDEYE: What is the current situation for photographers based in Ukraine? What kinds of work are continuing, and what work is no longer possible, or compromised? Is any particular work being prioritised? What about photographers themselves - have any left the country? Or have joined the armed forces?
U.P: We are not exaggerating when we say that the lives of absolutely all Ukrainian photographers have undergone radical changes. Previous everyday and professional life, projects, and exhibitions became impossible. It is impossible to describe the Ukrainian photographic sector in any general way because the practices, approaches, and views on photography are very different. But we can definitely say that under the pressure of the war, each of these diverse personal approaches have changed, and everyone had to choose a new strategy for coexistence with the new reality, as a citizen of Ukraine, and as a professional photographer. Generally speaking, we are seeing several life scenarios of the Ukrainian photographic sector after 24 February 2022; some photographers switched to reportage and documentary war photography, some have had similar experiences before, but most have not; others began to develop active volunteer activities, founded their own initiatives, or joined the already existing ones to help the civilian population and the military.
Some photographers try to continue their professional activities, not for the purpose of professional development, but for the great desire and need to support the visibility of Ukraine worldwide, to talk about Ukraine - through their own works, addresses, or lectures.
Some photographers, as well as artists, have joined the Armed Forces.
What do you see as the main aims and benefits of Ukrainian. Photographies in the near future?
U.P: Our main task is to create a stable network of partners, institutions, and authors around the project, with whom we would be able to develop a common space for the dialogue between the Ukrainian and European photographic sectors. Of course, first of all, we are talking about curated online exhibitions on the Ukrainian.Photographies platform and research materials about Ukrainian photography, its authors, possible new perspectives, findings, etc. But we are open to any other proposals that will allow us to deepen the discourse of Ukrainian photography, discuss it, and popularise it. We understand that Ukrainian photography in general, as a practice being created within our country, is little known and studied in other countries. We would like to help change this situation.
Of course, in addition to finding and creating new photographic narratives, the mission of our project is to collect funds to help Ukrainian photographers. After the Russian invasion, the lives of Ukrainians changed, and photographers are no exception. It is very important for us to somehow help our authors, many of whom are left without work and without the opportunity to create new projects. Also, many of them changed their photographic qualifications to become war photographers, doing everything possible to record the horrors happening in Ukraine now. The collected funds will become a kind of artist fee for participation in the exhibition.
How might you develop or grow the project?
U.P: is not exclusively a wartime project. Of course, it is our response to the war in Ukraine, but in general, its format implies long-term work and results. The project will become an archive that is constantly updated and complemented, which of course is ensured by the constant expansion of our community and the involvement of new partners and experts. We also plan to come up with offline work formats.
Where can people find out more about any of these issues?
U.P: Follow us on our social networks, visit the website, and subscribe to the newsletter. We are very open to collaborations and new ideas, so don’t hesitate to email or drop us a message.
Facebook: Ukrainian. Photographies
Photo: U.P’s founders, Max Gorbatskyi and Viktoria Bavykina