Winners of Photo Kyiv 2017 Contest: an interview with Yana Shcherbakova and Oleksandr Navrotskyi

By Anna Savitskaya - Friday, October 27, 2017
Winners of Photo Kyiv 2017 Contest: an interview with Yana Shcherbakova and Oleksandr Navrotskyi

The first edition of Photo Kyiv, International Art Fair, dedicated exclusively to photography, will take place 2-5 November 2017 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Among its activities was a Contest for Young Photographers in two nominations: art and documentary photography. Two winners were selected – Yana Shcherbakova in documentary photography and Oleksandr Navrotskyi in art photography. Artdependence Magazine cought up with the winners to find out more about what drives them.

Winners of Photo Kyiv 2017 Contest: an interview with Yana Shcherbakova and Oleksandr Navrotskyi

The first edition of Photo Kyiv, International Art Fair, dedicated exclusively to photography, will take place 2-5 November 2017 in Kyiv, Ukraine. The hosting venue is the exhibition site of the famous Toronto-Kyiv Complex, which has already successfully held large-scale cultural events on previous occasions. Organisers set themselves a clear goal: to present photography as a self-sufficient medium of ​​ contemporary Ukrainian art and to hold an event on the European level.

Photo Kyiv will include an exhibition of established Ukrainian photo artists, a galleries section which will exhibit and sell photography, a special project section presented by local and international art institutions, an educational area (lectures and round tables) and a contest for emerging young artists. This year the focus of the fair is on the Ukrainian photographic art scene.  

The contest for young Ukrainian artists included two categories: art and documentary photography. There were 4 members on the judging panel: Ksenia Malykh (art historian, member of the PinchukArtCentre’s Research Platform team, co-founder of OK Projects, curator of the visual program of the Closer art center, member of the expert council for contemporary art at the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine), Raed Bawayah (founder of the Le Quatrieme Image, Paris, France), Philippe Bertrand (photography collector) and Vladimir Seleznev (founder of the Fine Art photography school). Two winners were selected – Yana Shcherbakova in documentary photography and Oleksandr Navrotskyi in art photography. The main prize is an exhibition at Photo Kyiv. Artdependence Magazine cought up with the winners to find out more about what drives them. 

Artdependence Magazine: How did you become addicted to photography?

Yana: I would say that I started taking photography seriously about 4 years after Victor Marushchenko’s school graduation. Having said that, I did have my first camera and started to make pictures around 8 years ago. These were largely just banal shots of something aesthetic.

Oleksandr: It all began around 10 years ago when I got a magazine about photography in my hands. Most of the information there was limited to advertising photo equipment, but the necessary "grains" fell into a favorable "soil". Over time, photography has become one of the tools I have for perceiving and understanding the surrounding space.

AD: What is so special about photography to you?

Yana: Since I am fond of film photography, and very often I shoot on black and white film, I am engaged in developing and sometimes printing photos. The entire process, from clicking the shutter until the appearance of the image on paper, turns into a kind of magical process. Therefore, for me, photography is nothing but magic.

In addition, for me, this is a unique way of conveying information to the viewer on topics that affect them.

Oleksandr: Photography gives me the opportunity to stop the kaleidoscope of my own impressions, to save and share some part of the knowledge obtained this way. 

Sonya ©Yana Shcherbakova

Christina ©Yana Shcherbakova

Brothers ©Yana Shcherbakova

Alexandra ©Yana Shcherbakova

AD: Are you ready to experiment or prefer to master your skills in an already selected genre?

Yana: Very ready! In addition to the documentary photo, I always wanted to try working in a conceptual direction.

Oleksandr: Everything around us is rapidly changing - trends, technologies...I admit, it is difficult for me to predict what "language" and with what tools we will describe and document the world tomorrow, whether visual images or not, photographs as such will still be relevant and interesting. But, at the moment, I'm not going to dramatically change the direction in which I work now.

AD: How does inspiration come, and how did you choose the theme of the new series?

Yana: Through photographs I only want to explore those topics that I genuinely care about and which grab me, cause interest and cause a desire to dig deeper.

Oleksandr: The city is like a museum for me, working 24/7. It inspires me with its "performances" and "installations." People, books, music, weather, anything, any situation can promote creative activity. The main thing is to be attentive, open to what is happening around you. Usually I just walk around and shoot on the principle of "go God knows where - find God knows what." The themes and series appear later from what I have shot. So, first I shoot, and only then I analyze, systematize. 

AD: If you have any favorite photographers, who are they and why do you like about them?

Yana: David Alan Harvey - his work with color is amazing!

Tierney Gearon - her work is close to me in spirit. There is a lot of life in her works. Lately, the work of Jim Goldberg caught my attention. I really like his presentation of works together with the handwritten texts.

Oleksandr: There are many of them, first who come to mind are Trent Park, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Alexander Gronsky…

AD: What is your next project?

Yana: First I need to complete the current one. I would like to present one of the projects in the form of a book. Usually I do not come up with future projects, but just systematize my own impressions and give them a name.

Oleksandr: There are several things that thrill me, but first I want to understand what to chose.

AD: What other creative activities would you like to try in the future?

Yana: Perhaps a multimedia project. I think it would be very interesting to try.

Oleksandr: For me it would be good to devote more time to photography, and then we'll see.

Кyiv, 2013, series «RаЙ:ON/Troeschyna» ©Oleksandr Navrotskyi 

Кyiv, 2015, series «RаЙ:ON/Troeschyna» ©Oleksandr Navrotskyi 

Кyiv, 2014, series «Slowly t»

Кyiv, 2017, series «Slowly t»

AD: What advice could you give to young photographers?

Yana: I think the main problem faced by young photographers is to find the genre in which to shoot. I would advise studying the history of photography, as well as modern world trends and trends in photography and contemporary art. In some areas, there is a rapid transformation of photography that combines art and digital art - this is a huge field for a new creative generation of photographers. I think deeper study will help to choose your own path. And of course, shoot and experiment as much as possible.

Oleksandr: I liked how Roger Ballen responded to a similar question in an interview: "Find yourself another profession, other than photography, that you would like."

Yana Shcherbakova graduated from the Art and Graphic Faculty of the Krivoy Rog State Pedagogical University. She moved to Kiev 5 years ago and now works as a graphic designer in the international company Sports Logistics, specializing in design and branding of stadiums around the world. In 2013 she finished the photography school of Victor Marushchenko and is a member of the Kyiv photo club 5,6.

Oleksandr Navrotskyi (1983) was born and lives in Kyiv. He is an autodidact. He participated in numerous exhibitions in Ukraine and Russia and was the 1st place winner in the international contest “FotoFuture 2009” Moscow. He was also the winner of the Street Photo Festival, Moscow, Russia (2012) and had a personal exhibition "Otherside" in the Museum of the Contemporary Art "Plast-Art", Chernihiv, Ukraine (2013). He had a further personal exhibition called "Slowly t" in the Museum of the Contemporary Art "Plast-Art", Zelena Scena Festival, Chernihiv, Ukraine and others.

Anna is a graduate of Moscow’s Photo Academy, with a previous background in intellectual property rights. In 2012 she founded the company Perspectiva Art, dealing in art consultancy, curatorship, and the coordination of exhibitions. During the bilateral year between Russia and The Netherlands in 2013, Perspectiva Art organised a tour for a Dutch artist across Russia, as well as putting together several exhibitions in the Netherlands, curated by Anna. Since October 2014, Anna has taken an active role the development and management of Artdependence Magazine. Anna interviews curators and artists, in addition to reviewing books and events, and collaborating with museums and art fairs.

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Image of the day

 Geng Jianyi (1962–2017). The Second State, 1987. 130*196cm Painting, Oil on canvas. Courtesy: ShanghArt Gallery

Geng Jianyi (1962–2017). The Second State, 1987. 130*196cm Painting, Oil on canvas. Courtesy: ShanghArt Gallery

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Artdependence is an international online magazine covering all spheres of contemporary art as well as modern and classical art. The magazine features interviews with artists, curators, fair directors/organizers, collectors, people who are interested in art and connected with the art world. Artdependence Magazine also runs a series of articles and reviews on recent events and publications. 

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