16 – 30 December 2016
Wiktoria Wojciechowska worked on the project Iskry/Sparks in the years 2014-2016 in Ukraine. The men who are the subjects of her work were involved in the Euromaidan revolution, but also fought against pro-Russian separatists in the east and south of Ukraine. The men and boys portrayed by Wojciechowska are not professional soldiers. Their today’s status has been determined by the sudden political changes. Many of them have died. Others returned to their homes, and agreed to tell their story.
The central part of the project is a series of portraits of men with whom Wiktoria Wojciechowska met when they returned to their homes. The images are accompanied by other forms of representation of the experience of war – video projections, photographs and collages from the war front. In her method, the author focuses primarily on people, and less on politics, so the captured images of conflict in Ukraine differ from the aesthetics of the way photojournalism and reportage portray war. The use of various multimedia is an attempt to show the complex changes occurring in people under the influence of experience of struggle, and to show mechanisms of adaptation to the daily brutality of life on the front.
As one of the soldiers described during a conversation with the artist: “With time, you get used to the constant tension – you call your wife at an appointed hour, while bullets pass over your head. You call her even if you might expose yourself to the enemy. You get used to the proximity of death, to her view. Death looks into your eyes, and you do not turn your eyes away. You must understand that your life is both important, and meaningless. You fight for it, but also reconcile the possibility of its end.” Iskry/Sparks are also an artistic challenge – is it possible to show the experience of the war through art? Are the sparks of explosions still visible in the eyes of the soldiers? Wiktoria Wojciechowska gives them a voice, watches them function in the realities of conflict, as well as after returning from war.
She also works on materials obtained directly from the fighters, such as videos and photos from their mobile phones – an attempt to sort out the chaos caused by war.
The selected works are an attempt to tell a story and share observations from a country in war. Reflection from the work of Victoria Wojciechowska concerns not only the fragility of human life and body. The author also raises questions about the timeliness of the figure a soldier, a man, an adult.
Wictoria Wojciechowska – visual artist, photographer. The project Iskry / Sparks won the Griffin Art Space – Lubicz 2015 award at the Portfolio Review of the annual festival Month of Photography in Krakow. Wojciechowska was also the winner of one of the most prestigious international competitions in photography, the Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award in 2015. She also received the first prize in the Photo Diploma Award in 2013.
Her works were shown at festivals in Arles, Paris, Lille, Minsk, Ljubljana, published in magazines such as the British Journal of Photography, ArchivoZine, ArtPhotoMag, Causette, Gente di Fotografia, L’Oeil de la Photographie, Wysokie Obcasy, Leica Photographs International.
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