“The Soviet Union left a great heritage in various manifestations from architecture to people’s thoughts, and some are struggling to understand the new times,” says 22-year-old Ukranian photographer Vladyslav Andrievsky. “Often, because of this, the youth is struggling to find common ground with the elders.
“It’s obvious that there were many limitations when it came to one’s life or freedom. Today, when thinking about the Soviet Union, we are visualising it the way it could have been, not the way it was. Of course the fact that somebody could have been killed for a painting or a thought is shocking and devastating. Still, we are left with an enormous cultural heritage like art, literature, music, films, and we truly value that.
“Owing to people like Boris Mikhailov we can try to understand what life was like back then,” he continues. “In his book Case History he is showing homeless people like heroes, who are giving their lives for the brighter future of the new generations. As a young person I don’t want to be a let-down. I don’t want to upset Boris.”
Born and raised in the outskirts of Kyiv, Andrievsky got into photography when he was a child, when his mother would give him a camera and a couple of rolls of film when he headed off to summer camp. He went on to study art photography in Kyiv, but says his real influence came at the Victor Marushchenko School of Photography, which he enrolled in during his first year at university.
“For me this place holds much more than purely education, it has influenced me as a human being as well,” he says. “I’ve met a lot of great and talented people there, such as Boris and Vita Mikhailov, Sasha Rudensky, Sasha Kurmaz, and Margo Ovcharenko.”
Andrievsky now lives in downtown Kyiv and says his work is focused on the city and its younger generation – in particular on Kyiv’s vibrant youth culture, and the way it contrasts with the uninspiring housing blocks in which many live in the city. “I like to explore and investigate the phenomenon of how they [the younger generation] can dream of something important and sublime, even living in these grey concrete boxes,” he says.
“I feel a certain tension between the faceless and uniform aesthetics of the dormitory areas, and those truly touching stories that lie behind it. What seems raw, unfriendly and sad, opens up differently if you dig deeper and start a dialogue. This is the state of the search and disclosure that I’m trying to portray using photography. My camera is aimed at the (post) Soviet visuality, where something indeterminate happens.”
Sometimes hip, sometimes hardcore, many of his shots seem worlds away from the image of Ukraine more often portrayed in the West, in press images dominated by the ongoing effects of the 2014 crisis. But Andrievsky says his work is still marked by the conflict, and the impact it’s had on everyone, both young and old, in the country.
“I don’t want politics, war, murders, violence, separation, hatred,” he says. “I feel very deeply against it. I want peace and love everywhere in the world. It’s a huge internal struggle for me. I know that there are a lot of evil things happening in the world that I can’t accept or even begin to relate to. Sometimes I try to figuratively close my eyes, but I still see how it reflects on everyone’s faces and the whole young generation as well.”