Experience

Kostya Smolyaninov: There Are Two Cities: a Potemkin Village for Tourists and the Real Lvov”

Lvov photographer Kostya Smolyaninov - creator of the Street Theography project, dedicated to the conflict between faith and ostentatious religiosity - talks about what you don’t see enough of in street photography, what he considers to be real evil and what he himself believes in.

While he was working on the Street Theography project, photographer Kostya Smolyaninov spent ten years observing the dissonance between faith and ostentatious piety on the streets of Ukraine, Russia and Poland. This research resulted in the release of a book of the same name in October of last year. The pictures in this series don’t show worship in churches, but rather embody manifestations of religious devotion in everyday life on the streets and in public places (hence, the name of the project). In his discussion with Bird In Flight Smolyaninov talked about what he thinks of his hometown, Lvov, why he doesn’t drink and who girls love more than artists.

Kostya Smolyaninov Age 43

Born and lives in Lvov. Photographer and curator. Participant in modern art and photography festivals in Ukraine, Russia and Eastern Europe.

I am a senior researcher at the Laboratory of Immunology at the Institute of Animal Biology. This has probably led to everything that we see today.

At the beginning of the 2000s I started buying photojournals out of curiosity. I was interested in what they were propagating in the journals, but I understood immediately that I could do everything that those guys do, except better.


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There are two cities: a Potemkin village for tourists and the real Lvov. The first one is a fake kind of Paris for the poor. The second is very interesting, profound and difficult to understand. The one that I refer to as “real” is my favorite one.

Public religiosity interests me mainly because in Lvov, where I live, this topic is very visible. В This is likely by virtue of the traditions of Galichina. Here, it’s simply impossible to avoid this subject, you’ll stumble across it everywhere.

I’m not an atheist; I believe in superstition. If there is such a religion.


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Metaphysical photography appeared in LiveJournal. It was exactly when San Sanych Slyusarev and several photographers close to him, such as Dima Muzalev, Vlad Sakhanenko and others, decided to formulate a definition for the photos they were taking. Nothing they did went according to the plans they originally had, but the movement arose and began to spread. I followed the discussion closely, but to be honest I didn’t understand much of it because I didn’t participate in their joint activities. Accordingly, I believe that I have never made metaphysical photography. It’s possible that I sometimes practice something that looks like metaphysical photography, but it actually isn’t that. It happens. It sounds strange, but whatever.

San Sanych Slyusarev and several photographers close to him, such as Dima Muzalev, Vlad Sakhanenko and others, decided to formulate a definition for the photos they were taking. Nothing they did went according to the plans they originally had, but the movement arose and began to spread.

I’m interested in Slyusarev, Maksimishin and Bob Mikhailov. I also really like Igor Mukhin and everything that he does. In addition, creative musicians from the avant-garde jazz scene are important to me; Peter Brettsman once gave me a strong jolt of energy. The British performer-artist Nigel Rolfe also provided me with a reference point for a while. Tiberius Silvashi, likewise, is a very influential person for me.

Street photography has demonstrated only three things in recent times: everything can come out nicely in the frame; you can run into all kinds of fun on the streets; someone somewhere is constantly rejecting picturesque shadows, which sometimes makes you delirious when you see a glittering, harmonious frame.


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Street and metaphysical photography are probably not even styles of photography. These are some kind of subcultural interests, if you can call them that, that the photo community or lonely photo enthusiasts occupy themselves with. Nude photography also falls within the same category, but it’s less common. For me, these “styles” are just a tool in studying subjects that interest me.

Shilo is a really good group. Sometimes I think that they’re a bit opportunistic, but I believe that they act sincerely.

Is it possible for unrecognized genius to exist today? Of course it’s possible. Now such opportunities are fewer, but if you try you can go unnoticed.

For some people, Schnapps aids their creativity; for me, it interferes in my work and disrupts my creativity. I’m a man of extremes and I take everything to the point of absurdity, that’s why I don’t drink, smoke or do drugs. I’m either taking pictures or sleeping.


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Right now the biggest evil is hatred.

I try not to talk so much about what I think is overrated so that I don’t bring charges of envy upon myself; the argument is tightly closed. There are tons of underrated people. Any person might consider himself to be underrated, but this is probably a trivial complex. You need to struggle with your complexes.


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Girls love artists. A little bit less than guitarists and poets.

Ebola is simple. Either we kill it, or it kills us. There is no third way.

How did Oleg Usatyuk get a black eye? Well, anything can happen in the heat of a discussion.


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