Bird in Flight Names Winners of Ukrcontempphoto

Yana Kononova won in the Discovery of the Year category; KOCHETOV by MOKSOP publishing became the Photobook of the Year; and Viktor Marushchenko received the Award for Contribution to Photography.

Bird in Flight announced the winners of the first national award for achievement in photography Ukrcontempphoto. The winners were decided in the three categories: Discovery of the Year, Photobook of the Year, and The Award for Contribution to Photography.

Discovery of the Year — Yana Kononova, Under the Weather

The idea of this nomination is to support emerging authors whose projects are not known to the wider public yet. The nomination jury included 14 experts, among them Pavlo Gudimov, founder of Ya Gallery art center, Sasha Kurmaz, photographer and artist, Misha Buksha and Yaroslav Solop, founders of BOOKSHA publishing, and Alina Sandulyak, curator of Bird in Flight Photography School.

Every member of the jury nominated one person for the Discovery of the Year. The voting was done tournament-style at the closed meeting. In the final, Yana Kononova with her project, Under the Weather, won by a large majority of votes.

Yana Kononova was born on Pirallakhi Island in the Caspian Sea, near Baku. Her family later moved to Ukraine. She defended a thesis on contemporary anthropology and received a PhD in sociology. She took up photography fairly recently, after moving to the Trakhtemyriv peninsula on the Dnieper.

Under the Weather studies melancholy. Kononova’s photographs depict locals from the rural area where she currently lives. The photographer discovers that melancholy doesn’t discriminate based on age, social status, or the so-called awareness level.

Viktor Marushchenko, jury member: “Yana Kononova embodies her thoughts and ideas with a lot of expression. Being a philosopher and a sociologist, the author addresses difficult existential themes, embodying them in a perfect visual sequence. It is a rare case in Ukrainian photography when the author has something to say, and they do.”

Photo: Yana Kononova, Under the Weather
Photo: Yana Kononova, Under the Weather
Photo: Yana Kononova, Under the Weather

Photobook of the Year — KOCHETOV, by Viktor and Serhiy Kochetov

Five photobooks by Ukrainian authors published in 2018 and selected by Bird in Flight were nominated for his award. The winner was selected by the international jury: Yumi Goto (Japan), photobook designer, Valentina Abenavoli (Italy), co-founder of Akina Books publishing house, Maarten Schilt (Netherlands), Schilt Publishing founder, and Misha Pedan (Sweden), founder of the Ukrainian Photography Alternative.

KOCHETOV, the first book by MOKSOP publishing founded by the Museum of the Kharkiv School of Photography, received the most points. The book includes photographs by Viktor and Serhiy Kochetov father and son, taken in Kharkiv in the period between the 1970s and 2000s.

Misha Pedan, founder of the Ukrainian Photography Alternative: “These are the times of changes in Ukraine. It justifies many compromises. “We are only learning”, “there is no money for quality now”, “it’s okay like this today, but tomorrow…”. KOCHETOV offers no compromises. It is done at an international level. These photographs could be placed in the TATE or MoMA today. Designer Ania Nałęcka-Milach is one of the best in Europe, the form and the material work 100% for the content. Photographs by the Kochetovs are at the same time history and the avant garde. This is the absurd and the charm of present day Ukraine. Everything changes fast. In just five years, there are ten publishing houses that work with photobooks. I am sure that competition will have a positive impact on quality.”

Photo: Viktor and Serhiy Kochetov / MOKSOP
Photo: Viktor and Serhiy Kochetov / MOKSOP

The Award for Contribution to Photography — Viktor Marushchenko

The winner in this category was selected by Ukrainian culturologists, media and art industry representatives — a total of 33 experts. Every one of them suggested three candidates for this award. The winner is Viktor Marushchenko, a photographer and a founder of his own photography school.

The jury members who voted for Viktor Marushchenko note his contribution to the development of the Ukrainian photographic community, popularizing art photography, and teaching Ukrainian photographers

Viktor Marushchenko took up photography in the mid-1970s. His work was exhibited in Europe and South and North America, and he has taken part in two biennials — in Venice and in Sao Paulo. In 2004, he founded his own photography school in Kyiv. In 2010, the school started publishing the photography magazine 5.6 and launched a platform for selling photography.

Olena Chervonyk, curator of the contemporary art department at the Philadelphia Museum of Art: “In the situation of the complete absence of professional photography education in Ukraine, Viktor systematically and persistently pursues teaching. During the years that his school exists, it formed a center, even a movement — not a place where you learn technical skills, but a place where you get immersed in photography as a way of thinking, as an instrument for analysis.”

Viktor Marushchenko

The award ceremony for the winners will take place at MetaCulture art space (Kyiv, 31 Nyzhnioyurkivska Str.) on April 26. The prize in nominations Discovery of the Year and The Award for Contribution to Photography is 30 000 UAH. In the category Photobook of the Year — Panasonic Lumix camera.

You can find out more about the Ukrcontempphoto award on the website.

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