Valentin Bo’s 10 Favorite Photos

At BIF's request, Ukrainian photographer Valentin Bo chose his favorite photos from his archives and reminisced about where and when he took the shots.

“An unquenchable thirst for life and healthy sensuality help our people hold together in difficult circumstances,” says art critic Viktoria Burlaka. “Erotic fluids transform otherwise unsightly everyday activities into a perpetual “feast during the plague.” Valentin Bo’s work is built in the style of a comic-collage – the “fuck” or even a gushing dick are always in the foreground, showcased as the key focus points of the images. Shots of legs, butts, or completely drunk chic (“the telki”), bodies lying around on the street or relaxing on an office desk after an orgy – all reveal the bright side of reality and are evidence to the vitality of our nation. It’s not necessary to highlight the negative because here there isn’t any trace of it.”

Valentin Bo, 29

Born in Lutsk, graduated from the institute of architecture at Lviv Polytechnic National University, lives and works in Kiev. Member of the photo collectives “4in1” (other members include: Maria Voinova, Ivan Chernichkin and Yurij Salabay) and the “Ukrainskaya Fotoalternativa” (URNA), co-author of the book, Flow / Potok. Valentin’s work has been exhibited at “Ya Galeree” in Kiev, Galleri KG52 in Stockholm and at “Vinzavod” in Moscow.

“Listen – once, two wives ago, two hundred and fifty thousand cigarettes ago, and three thousand liters of alcohol ago…That was when everyone was young…”
– Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle

This picture was taken somewhere a long time ago. My friend and I lived for photography. We loved taking pictures and I loved taking pictures of her. It didn’t matter if it was cold or snowing or if people were watching because my own crazy ideas kept telling me, “Come on, do it!” Walking by the theater at night, it was difficult to pass up on the blissful expression on Grishkovets’ face. I had to clarify it.

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My camera and film have always been within my reach, just as they were on this hungover morning when a swan appeared near our room.

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Every party always ends with several rolls of pictures. This time, we were celebrating Sasha’s birthday, everyone was pretty drunk, and I started building a mise-en-scene on her favorite balcony. Later on, this picture was reprinted in a lot of European zines.

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This photo was taken on the largest passenger ship in the world, Allure of the Seas, somewhere between Miami and the island of Cozumel in Mexico. Four days on the ship, 6,500 passengers, pools, a casino and a golf course. I was taking several shots at this place every day, but this one especially looks like the cover of the religious magazine Watchtower. Americans bronzing in the sun, the sky, the grass – all signs of paradise. I like the distorted perspective: the guy with the golf club is either hanging in the air or standing on the stone.

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A picture of this character cost me 30 grivnas, if I’m not mistaken. This was in Koktebel during the Jazz festival. Anyone could take a picture with him as long as you pre-paid the woman under the umbrella. He was carried away somewhere in the evening.

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/valentin-bo-10-favourite-photos-05.jpg”, “alt”: “Valentin Bo”}

This is my brother, Chris. Usually I would take pictures of him sleeping, and in his early childhood he would often walk in his sleep. This photo is from our room at a hotel in Barcelona. Chris was 12 years old and his sleepwalking didn’t concern us much at this point, but this photo will always remind me of his condition.

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/valentin-bo-10-favourite-photos-06.jpg”, “alt”: “Valentin Bo”}

This is from a business trip to Gran Canaria island. Having vigorously celebrated the opening of the international conference, I went to survey the territory. I stopped to relieve myself near a tree, raised my head and heard something whistle, and I took a picture of the branch without looking through the viewfinder. I found a sleeping peacock in the tree after I developed the film.

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Once I visited a small art festival in the Swedish village of Dala-Floda. Every day there were musical performances, exhibits, someone setting up an installation, and in the evenings they set up jazz and folk-rock concerts in the improv hall. This guy decided to enjoy the concert in the fresh air through the open door.

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This one is also from Dala-Floda. We lived in a circus trailer, at the furthest point on the outskirts of the village. As darkness fell all around us it took on a mystical shade: the fog drifted and we heard the sounds of peacocks. The way home took us about half an hour, and there was always a broken, vacant circus tent and trampoline next to the trailer. We took some pictures on the last night before we left, and the results fully convey the mysterious atmosphere of the place.

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A year ago, we went to Paris for a few days with the same Sasha from the other picture. Just like before – long walks and a lot of pics. The same footsteps of Benjamin Franklin and Marcel Proust brought us to the Trocadero that morning.

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/valentin-bo-10-favourite-photos-10.jpg”, “alt”: “Valentin Bo”}

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