The scope of this year’s International Month of Photography in Kyiv is more impressive than the first biennale. The event, which is being held under the auspices of leading domestic and international organizations, including the Kyiv State Administration’s Chief Directorate for Culture and Art, the Art Relief Foundation, the “Terra” Art Organization, the art galleries “Ra- Photo and “Irena,” and the French, German, Czech, and Polish centers in Kyiv, has brought together more than 22 individual and group exhibits scattered throughout the capital, featuring well-known and not so well known photographers who use both traditional and innovative techniques.
The motto of the second biennale, “The World and War,” remains topical in our world, which is still teeming with conflicts. The range of tensions recreated on film is significant not only within chronometric boundaries, but also in terms of cultural interpretations.
The first image of warfare ever recorded on film begins the retrospective theme.
Photos dating from the Crimean War of 1854-56, supplied by the French Cultural Center, are a reference point allowing the viewer to find technical similarities and differences, but also ideological ones as they reflect the further development of art photography. The classic calming effect of the yellowed photographs and their “still-life” quietude echo the parade spirit of warfare present in some WWI and WWII pictures.
Even more interesting are the photographic documents that seek the truth about actual events. Included here are unpublished photographs by our noted war photojournalist Yakov Davidzon (currently on display at the House of Artists), and a multimedia project using photo documents collected from practically the entire world by Yevhen, Maryna, and Oleksiy Matveyev, Yuriy Novykov, and Patricia Tokav-Sedkh (Lavra Gallery), and a look back at past events by modern art photographers (gallery of the Kyiv Mohyla Academy).
Conflict, in the broad sense of the word, and revolutionary, nonconformist moods as a distant (or close) echo of the war are the focus of various projects, including expositions from France, Benoit Gysembergh (Soviart Gallery); the Czech Republic, Jaroslav Kucera (Maisternia Gallery), Dana Kyndrova; Georgia, Vakho Beselia, Beso Gulashvili (Dim Mykoly Gallery); Germany, Frank Thiel (National Art Museum of Ukraine), and Poland, “Solidarity: 25 Years” (Ra-Photo Gallery).
Modern tension in the works of Ukrainian art photographers is often interwoven with recent Orange revolutionary images. Other photographers have found prototypes of war even in peaceful themes, such as relations between men and women or conflicts between man and material objects.