Bleak, Bold, Black & White: Nazar Furyk Documents Ukrainian Youth Culture

 

Drugs, alcohol, sex and monotonous, monochromatic recklessness. Nazar Furyk is a Kyiv-based freelance photojournalist who has been capturing life in Kolomya, his hometown in Western Ukraine, for as long as he can remember. Nazar had previously been working as a war photographer on the Ukrainian front line, however the experience in the east of the country made him reconsider his original photographic ambitions.

In his latest photo series, entitled Province, Nazar has focused on capturing snapshots of daily life beyond the war, the Ukrainian lifestyle of provincial towns that is either ignored by the media or negatively portrayed by the old USSR stereotype of ‘vodka vodka vodka’. Rather, Nazar captures the surprisingly mundane and relatable reality of a group of Ukrainian teens simply concerned with relaxing, having sex, drinking and taking drugs. Bleak, bold, black and white, Nazar’s shots reveal the everyday reality of youth culture in Ukraine: an extreme yet stale lifestyle beyond headlines and conflict.

 

 

You went from doing war photography to capturing scenes of daily life. Has the purpose of your photography changed as well?

I would not say that I completely changed from war photography to photographing daily life. At different periods of time, I am interested in taking different pictures, and for my own development I am always trying to learn and experiment. I am rather interested in war photography, but with a somewhat different interpretation. Now I am trying to become aware and capture those moments that surround us and influence us beyond the war, in peaceful and quiet places. I still do not quite know what I definitely want to show and tell through my photographs, but the impact of the war in Ukraine is still notably reflected even in peaceful places.

 

Your photographs portray mainly Ukrainian boys. Was this a deliberate choice, and how different is female youth culture in Ukraine?

I did not deliberately photograph only boys- there are also some photos of girls, but they do not particularly like to be photographed, and be so openly exhibited. I think that the difference seems to be just this project- in terms of youth culture, boys and girls are all relatively equal, all more or less do the same thing: wander around and have fun.

 

In previous interviews, you mentioned that “a photo is powerful because of the moments and seconds in which was taken”. When it comes to mundane scenes, how do you choose the exact moment to take a photograph?

Even though I crazily love paying attention to the composition of the photograph, sometimes there are particular moments, when something is really interesting and worthwhile, and then just the feeling of the moment takes over and I just take a picture without explicitly thinking about the aesthetics. However, at the same time I usually manage to achieve a particular composition in the photograph, it’s rather a practical experience of the subconscious.

 

Your project portrays a very relatable reality of youth culture concerned with relaxing, drinking, drugs and sex. However, it also transmits a desire to cut off. Is Ukrainian youth in the province increasingly connected with the rest of the world, or rather alienated from it all?

I do not think that youth culture, the culture in the provinces, is very different from those in other countries, it is somehow interconnected. Perhaps I may be wrong, but I also saw photographs from English provincial towns where the same story takes place. This particular lifestyle might be alienating, might reflect a desire to cut off, but then is definitely present amongst the youth all over the world and not just in Ukraine.