Orient Station: Decommunized: Ukrainian Soviet mosaics – Y.Nikiforov’s photography
Nearly every Ukrainian city has its mosaic, relief or stained glass created by Soviet artists in the years 1960-1980. Created as public space decorations, they remain little known because the inhabitants never acknowledged their artistic value. Soviet monumental art was a failure – it failed to enchant the viewer both in the times of USSR and after Ukraine regained independence. Its works were treated as state ordered propaganda that wasn’t worth any attention. The paradox is that the USSR never created public space per se because there were no basic freedoms that are the foundations of such spaces – the freedom of gatherings, speech, protest. Instead, the country imitated the public space, presenting only selected commissioned symbols and paintings, completely disregarding the needs of the society. Ukraine inherited this tendency in a significant degree. After the fall of the USSR, newly independent countries gained vital civic freedoms but only so that public spaces could fall into the hands of private buyers and lose any chances of becoming public platforms.
Since 2013, as part of his project, Yevgen Nikiforov has been visiting all regions of Ukraine to photograph all local examples of monumental art and record their history. He wants to show them as free from the obtrusive traces of post-Soviet cities which never really picked themselves up after the wave of enthusiastic capitalism. Many works are slightly over 50 years old but they look like archeological relics coated with a layer of recent occupation. Soviet monumental art, deprived of ideological context and lost in contemporary aesthetics, has become a background as commonplace as air and just as invisible.
Yevgen Nikiforov is a Kiev-based photographer . He was born in 1986 in Vasylkiv ( Kiev Oblast, Ukraine). In 2005 he took up professional photography. Since 2013 he has been working on inbdependent documentary projects.
“The main goal of my photography is capturing the essence of a place in its transformation period together will the passage of time and changes resulting from economic, social or natural forces. The key topic of my research is the city as the main “battlefield” of various ideologies and the city as a “map” of invisible tensions present in society (or societies). One of the key topics I’ve been working on for nearly 4 years is Soviet cultural heritage and architecture that remins in Ukrainian cities as well as all current, controversial approaches to it.
OPENING AND PRESENTATION OF THE PROJECT 28 June, 17:30
28 June – 1 July | 11:00-19:00 | Gardzienice Gallery
The exhibition will stay until 31 July 2018 – from Monday to Friday between 10:00-16:00