Sensitivity. Contemporary Ukrainian photography

Jul 16 2021 Published by under

[To view a virtual tour of the exhibition, click on the image. Use the audio guide in Ukrainian (red mark) and/or English (blue mark) languages]

Photography forces us to pay tribute to the transience. Its only constant is the sensitivity of the creator to what could be called the trembling of the world. It is this sensitivity that gives a photograph, otherwise essentially a technical image, its aesthetic and symbolic dimensions. This also preserves photography’s ability to be a medium that is extremely reflective, sensitive to changes in time, trends, technologies, and optics.

Photography’s invasion of the domain of classical fine arts provoked a revolutionary process, redrawing boundaries. The photographic medium is still the most rapidly changing due to its dependence on technological progress, deriving its unique nature from the interaction of sensitive surfaces with the light. In recent decades, much attention has been paid to the polarity between analogue and digital images, film and sensor; dark predictions about the future of photography persisted.

Nevertheless, these fatalistic prophecies have yet to come true — on the contrary, we see a kind of hybridization of traditional analogue photography with rapid digital innovations, a coexistence of aesthetics and approaches inherent in both technologies. Understanding photography has also been complicated by the ever expanding capabilities of the medium as it increasingly depends on digital technology and devices. This is apparent in the seeming infinity and immensity of contemporary photography, and its central role in the technologies of endless reproduction and multiplication. Photography dissolves so literally into mass culture, that sometimes it is difficult to recognize what in front of us is: an art object or a random snapshot.

This exhibition project represents a plurality of methods used within the photographic medium in Ukraine during the last almost three decades. This chronological framing is not random—during this period, photography has become a self-sufficient form in the system of Ukrainian contemporary art. Now, it is important to review this path in its entirety and in detail, in order to reveal the overall picture.

Despite the fact that Sensitivity. Contemporary Ukrainian photography exhibition covers a wide range of authors and phenomena, it does not employ an encyclopedic approach and its emphasis is not on chronology, but on the processes in the medium itself. This allows us to feel, and hopefully comprehend, time over a relatively short duration, using the optics of photography. And that is possible not only by immersing oneself in the context of history, which is full of events and transformations, but also by demonstrating different approaches to the photography itself, revealing the medium-specific collisions that occurred at that time.

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