On periodic Tuesday afternoons, we are showcasing an individual artist recognized for his or her unique voice, ideas and process. Once a month, a featured artist will be selected by Rebecca Locke, a New York City-based artist and curator, who develops collaborative and artist-led projects. This week’s artist From the Roster is: Yanina Shevchenko.
For many photographers, making an image is a way of transcribing reality. Photographs appear as pieces of the world they take away with them⎯miniature slices of reality. The action of making a photograph is described by Modelon Hooykaas as “taking a piece of somewhere with you.” Yanina Shevchenko’s series Vanishing is born from the artist’s desire to preserve the memory of a place that is close and important to her, a place that will soon cease to exist.
Within the former USSR, two and a half hours from Minsk the capital of Belarus, deep in the forest is a small village called Ganchanskoe. Ganchanskoe is the birthplace of Shevchenko’s mother, and home to her maternal grandparents. But, as with many villages across this region, it is fast becoming a very different place as the old established village communities are emptying, draining village life of its vibrance.
The disintegration of traditional social and political structures following World War II caused a great movement of rural migration into cities. The fall of the Soviet Union precipitated the collapse of collective farms and state-owned enterprises across the region. With thousands of factories shutting down, millions of people became unemployed. In rural areas there were few opportunities to adapt to new circumstances caused by the lack of infrastructure and jobs.
Across the region, the number of villages considered ‘ghost villages’ continues to increase each year. In Ganchanskoe, the population has dwindled to less than 150, with mostly elderly villagers remaining, as the rest of the population migrates to the city. In 2013 there were 14 pupils in the local school, today the school has closed, and the decline of villages across Belarus is doomed to continue without intervention from government, investors, infrastructure and social services.
Shevchenko believes that photographs do more than refer to a place, they trigger emotions becoming “portable sites of remembrance”. Photographs treasure an experience, becoming a catalyst to re-tell and re-live moments or stories. Images from the series Vanishing can be considered an archival record of a place that is important for remembrance, particularly for the artist.
Yanina Shevchenko is a Russian-born photographer based in Barcelona, Spain. She has worked in New York, Moscow and Buenos Aires. She is a graduate of Goldsmiths University of London, MA in Photography and Urban Cultures. Yanina is a curator and member of the Association of Urban Photographers, an international group of photographers and artists with an interest in urban spaces and places.
Yanina Shevchenko combines social research and visual practice. Over a number of years she has focused on issues related to social aspects of cultural identity, as well as rural and urban landscape. Most of her projects are personal. She uses photography as a visual language to talk about notions of interest, to tell stories of places and to learn or rediscover them through photography.
Yanina’s most recent curatorial work includes ‘Streetopolis’ an exhibition by the Association of Urban Photographers. The aim of this exhibition is to expand on notions of what constitutes contemporary street photography and to offer an alternative range of practices that link street cultures back to the wider context of urban life. It will be exhibited in New York, Barcelona and London:
W83 gallery, NY
September 10 – October 8, 2015
Thursday, September 10, 6-9pm, all welcome.
W83 Gallery, 150 W 83rd St.
(between Columbus and Amsterdam)
New York, NY 10024
The Folio Club, Barcelona
September 25 – October 8, 2015
71A Gallery, London
October 26 – 31, 2015
City to Sea Photography Workshop
Yanina Shevchenko will be participating in the forthcoming City to Sea Photography Workshop in Coney Island over the Labor Day weekend.
Coney Island, New York, NY
September 5 to 7, 2015
To register for the workshop please visit: