“Arabat Spit / Healing Muds” by Sergiy Lebedynskyy January 09 2015, 0 Comments
Born in a republic of the former USSR, now independent Ukraine, Sergiy Lebedynskyy is himself a young Ukrainian photographer, a founding member of the Shilo photo group (2010). This group has developed photographic projects in the tradition of the Kharkiv School of Photography (with such world-renowned photographers as Boris Mikhailov) “known for its bold and critical approach of the social and political processes in the ex-USSR.”
His latest series Euromaidan (2014), documented the protests, on Nezalezhnosti square (maidan Nezalezhnosti) in Kiev, of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians against Putin’s policy toward Ukraine. In this project, Arabat Spit / Healing Muds, Lebedynskyy uses a traditional basic spa as a metaphor for the current state of his country, “stuck between a certain nostalgia for the previous system and looking with apprehension toward an uncertain future.” In a present that has seen the emergence of deep financial discrepancies between people, some find refuge in old myths and recipes. They resort to the timeless usage of mineral mud baths to heal their physical and possibly psychological ailments. The Arabat Spit spa “is a place of interest of the Ukrainian and Russian lower-middle classes. Abandoned after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the site and the use of its mineral water and muds have slowly been revived for the past twenty years. The thermal spring and its muds are considered to have healing powers, and visitors come with their own sets of expectations from them.”
In order to reflect the nostalgic regression of some of the Ukrainian population, its mixed feelings of helplessness and hope about an “uncertain present,” its disillusions with a government that seems determined on staying aligned with a new Russia that has left behind the principles of socialism but is still ruled by oligarchs, the photographer used a Soviet-made panoramic camera (“Horizon”), and outdated Soviet film and paper. As a result each print becomes unique because uniquely tainted by time, in the same way as their own experiences have agents in the definitions of each Ukrainian citizen. As the photographers wrote it: “Photographs I made visually fell from the context of the times; they left me with the feeling of something already seen in the past. They matched my nostalgic feelings about my homeland, stuck between the Soviet past and an uncertain present. Later I realized that by means of photography I was looking for self-identification.”
Sergiy Lebedeynskyy holds a Ph. D. in engineering. He now works as a free-lance photographer. His photographs were included in the 2012 FotoFest biennial (Houston TX). His book, Euromaidan (2014), was published by Riot Books (limited edition of 250).
January 2 - 31, 2014.
Opening (First Friday): Friday January 2, 6 - 9 p.m.
An Evening on the PANORAMIC FORMAT at the gallery: history, technique, esthetics.
Thursday January 22nd, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.