Cosmic Intervention: Photographs Arising from Error
Beckett’s words “Try again, fail again, fail better” are condensed into absolutes and tattooed on the bodies of thousands of lovers of the absurd. When you constantly strive to create the illusion of a perfect image of your life, the cost of making a mistake becomes too high. The desire for perfection becomes overly important.
However, the right to make mistakes and the mistake itself as a creative method can provide tremendous freedom, from deconstruction to deliberate destruction of works, from trendy distortion of photographs to resistance against the very material. Even a mechanical failure of a computer system and the recovery of photographs can become a catalyst for reevaluating one’s entire creative path and life philosophy.
A photographer from Kharkiv. Collaborated with UNIAN, National Geographic, Le Monde, and The Guardian. Exhibited in Ukraine, France, the United States, and Egypt. Founder of Chekachkov Photo Academy.
— In the summer of 2016, my hard drive containing ten years’ worth of work crashed. It could have been a sad story, but I decided that there was no point in getting upset.
The service center told me that they were able to recover 98% of the information. I was very happy until I saw what it looked like: the disk was filled with damaged photos. Countless works were mixed up and discolored. The photos of Lenin’s fall were particularly vividly discolored. Some images got mixed up with my own photos, creating these comic-like compositions.
This coincided with my long-standing desire to create a series that would combine the political and personal. I remember during the Maidan, personal stories unfolded for me, and I understood that what was happening in my apartment was a reflection of the situation outside. I tried to put together a series back then, but it didn’t work out. But now, everything came together visually, and the political and personal became something cohesive.
I have selected about 500 images from this, but in reality, I haven’t reviewed the entire archive yet. There are nearly three terabytes of photos there, around 200,000 images.
In the early years of my photographic journey, I worked for news agencies, and sometimes I had to shoot in clubs, for example—I hated it! However, now that I’ve found these photos that have interesting distortions, I realized that I didn’t do it in vain.
I selected the images with a strange sense of incredible discovery and loss at the same time. Yes, this picture got discolored in unimaginable colors, but at the same time, it no longer exists in the form it was before. It took me some time to understand what is more valuable. It took some time to realize that what happened is much more than what was there before. What happened is bigger than me. I’m still going through them and discovering new and different contexts. I feel it, this is the main thing that happened to my photography.
I’m not ashamed to say that this is my best series because I didn’t put any effort into it. And it’s the most Buddhist.
This series allowed me to closely study the past ten years of my life. I analyzed how I lived, looked at the people I met, the women I loved, the events I witnessed. It was like rereading my own diary.
If we look for something similar in the history of art, I believe it is primarily the Kharkiv School of Photography. I never consciously approached the colorization of their images, but now they have colored themselves.
What happened greatly appeals to my worldview now. Are we the authors of what we create? How can one be an artist without doing anything?