Shilo group “Euromaidan”
“On the 19th of January, 2014 a peaceful protest of Ukrainian Euromaidans on the Hrushevskyi Street in Kiev turned into the possible beginning of a civil war. It went too far, with explosions of gas grenades, Molotov cocktails, shootings of activists by the special police unit “Berkut”, abductions of people to the forest, acts of torture and all the other methods employed by dictatorial regimes. I couldn’t remain indifferent to what was happening in the country. I called a fellow photographer and friend, Sergey Lebedinskyy, and the decision was made to go to Kiev immediately. We bought tickets and the following day we were running on the Maidan in freezing temperatures, holding onto our gear, aiming our cameras at the crowd and trying to keep warm, sharing tea and sandwiches with the activists. Twice God saved us from a “Berkut” attack. With no helmets or gas masks, not even the orange press coat, it was not safe. The latter wouldn’t have saved us anyway as the press were being systematically targeted by the police. We stayed on the Maidan for two days documenting the events as much as we could. We’re still alive without scratches or injuries. As I write these words I’m sitting in a train, Sergey is in a plane, our films and impressions are with us”.
Our photography focuses on social issues in our country, Ukraine. Most of the time our work deals with the legacy of Ukraine’s Soviet past. Rapid changes in the country happened after the collapse of the Soviet Union and Ukraine’s independence from it. This led to strong inhomogeneity in people’s way of living and their cultures. The majority could not adapt to the new system, and had to survive instead of thinking of how to progress. The country is stuck between its Soviet past and an uncertain present. Which future will we have? That is the question we are trying to answer by digging into the past, unsealing people’s fears, trying to reason them out of their absurdities and the lack of logic in their behaviors. For the prints we use the outdated soviet photographic paper, Bromexpress-1 (discontinued since 1990). Using this paper and darkroom processes such as lith printing, we have produced unpredictable and unrepeatable results. Each print is unique. This unpredictability and involvement of time in the process (aged paper, uncontrolled development) make each print to look like a document from an old archive. It brings a flavor of old and rare veracity, as in an archeological document about a bygone era never to be seen again. (Le 2014)
Sergey Lebedynskyy (1982) and Vlad Krasnoshchok (1980) started photography in 2010 and collaborated as photographic group Shilo, continuing traditions of Kharkiv School of Photography (Boris Mikhailov, Evgeny Pavlov, Sergey Bratkov etc.), known by its bold and critical view on the social processes in ex-USSR. “Shilo“ means awl, as group’s intention to pierce the old played out and constrained Ukrainian photographic environment.
The success of the the FotoFest portfolio review in Moscow (2011) led them to the inclusion in FotoFest 2012 Biennial of Russian Photography in Houston. In 2013 Shilo Group took part in several shows including FotoFest’s International Discoveries IV and exhibitions at Center of Photography The Lumiere Brothers and Open Gallery (both Moscow, Russia).
In 2014 Shilo Group is having group and solo shows in London, Vienna, Warsaw, Moscow and receives an honorable mention at 1st “ViennaPhotobookReview” for their project “Finished Dissertation”. Their book Euromaidan, published by Riot Books earlier this year, was nominated for Kassel Fotobook-Festival “Book of the year” and shortlisted by “First Photobook” Paris Photo – Aperture Foundation Award.
In 2015 Shilo Group is nominated for Rencontres d’Arles Discovery Award (first group nomination in Festival history). The exhibition will take place in July.
Works of Shilo Group are included to the collections of Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts, Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro/The Joaquim Paiva Collection and Museum of PhotoArt Moscow.
Vlad Krasnoshchok (first occupation maxillofacial surgeon) lives and works in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Sergiy Lebedynskyy (Ph.D in engineering) resides in Wolfsburg, Germany and Kharkiv, Ukraine.
The “Euromaidan” exhibition is available to see outdoors, at Chechnya square (P. Lukšys str,) till 11 of October.