To be honest, as a woman, I really dislike lists, categories, and anything else mentioning the word female in them. It implies that women’s talent, achievements, creations or whatever else should be categorized differently. Like it’s a surprise, or newsworthy, that a woman is just as competent as the next man. And so, rather, this article should have been called ‘Our Favourite Photographers from the Former USSR’.
But, and this is really a shame-on-us moment, the previous lists we did on photographers from Georgia, Russia, Azerbaijan and Moldova were seriously lacking in female contributions. Not by intention, but largely a consequence of the failure of us to give proper consideration to the female contribution to the artistic scenes of these countries. As such, this list exists as an attempt to atone for those shortcomings
We gathered some women photographers whose work we think is more than worthy of your time and attention. It wasn’t hard to find plenty of cool material, but it was hard to make a selection. However, we feel that their individual approaches, styles, and visions are really adding something to the contemporary creative spectrum. And ultimately, that is what matters – regardless of origin and gender.
Yulia drew our attention with her project Daring&Youth, which she started a couple of years ago after meeting a gang of hooligans. They were ex-soldiers, right-wing political activists, troublemakers, but at the same time they were young people, looking to have a good time, party, travel, and consciously construct their own online images. Set to the backdrop of ‘decommunization’ and the political transformation in her native Ukraine, she began to see this project as a “metaphor for ongoing political processes”. Check out the Instagram account she created for this very purpose, on which she posts her photos with popular hashtags assigned to them.
We love Yulia’s work for the relevant idea behind the Daring&Youth project, and for the raw and real, yet still somehow colourful and energetic photos. Her work besides Youth&Daring is also very, very worthy, by the way: if it’s feminine, playful, and modest, with a hint of provocation you are after, look no further.
Those who know country will instantly relate to these photos. With her recognizable, analogue style Nata manages to capture the essence and spirit of her country extremely well. In a creative yet realistic manner, her work visually explains what it is like to be born in Georgia, live in Georgia, and be young in Georgia. Not shying away from photo series with a slightly less playful touch, such as those depicting roadkill, other kinds of dead animals, or shagging dogs, Nata keeps it real and shows you life as it is. Sometimes brutal, sometimes funny, sometimes repulsive, oftentimes delightfully beautiful.
Lika’s work could – and should – be published in the creme-de-la-creme of all fashion magazines. Ultra-feminine, sexy, sometimes understated, other times in your face: Lika shows us that not only the future is female, the present is, too. She masterfully plays around with light, knowing exactly where to use the highlights and where to apply shading. With slight Guy Bourdin-like hints, Lika triggers the viewer’s curiosity whilst preserving a beautiful, vulnerable aura in her work. Born in Yerevan but residing in the US, she has a background in psychology, which was the root of her fascination with human behaviour. This is reflected in her photos, which focus on human emotions and behaviour in an elegant and fashionable setting.
Anya Galatonova’s work offers a glimpse into her native Transnistria. Overwhelmingly, the photography that emerges from that area sticks to the same “Place that does not exist” narrative that offers a dehumanizing portrayal of this area. Anya’s work instead looks to make the residence of this territory to showcase them in this monotonous moments of joys and boredom. In doing so, she showcases despite the politically uncertain status of Transnistria that the residence resemble any other society in equal fashion. Her newest work in collaboration with Anton Polyakov regarding Abkhazia expands upon this view with utterly beautiful shots.
Moscow’s Ekaterina Anchevskaya work has a capacity to capture the emptiness. She recently published a photo essay about Moscow during autumn, she stated, “everyone steps outside the escalators of the underground and disappears in the corners chasing the last light. Isolated and absorbed in their own thoughts.” The moments she catches showcases the weight and alienation that follows us throughout our every moment. This existential dread that follows her work is matched by an ability to find colour and beauty in those moments of dread.