Artem Nadyozhin

Portraits of the Ukraine

Despite recent political turbulence between the Ukraine and its Russian neighbours, there still blooms an inspiring uprising of art and creativity within its borders.

We recently came across a young talented artist, Artem Nadyozhin, who takes the streets in search of Ukraine’s character amidst a climate of uncertainty. 

Born in 1984 in Sverdlovsk, Artem was raised in the small industrial city of Pervomaysk in Southern Ukraine. 

Known to the world as an established nuclear missile centre, Pervomaysk’s nuclear operations were terminated after the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances in 1994. In 1996 the towering nuclear silo was replaced with fields of spectacular sunflowers, burying its past deep within the soil.

Artem’s passion for photography came from the time when he worked in a publishing house as a photo-editor, scrolling through hundreds of copyright images. It was only when a very un-professional, but well designed, Soviet film camera (Agat 18) fell into his hands, the rest was history.

The joys of age and beauty, friendship and solitude, are sought out and captured on film, documenting a unique time and place that will be most certainly be cemented in his country’s history. We speak with Artem to learn more about his practice and dreams.

Are there any photographers or artists that have directly influenced you and the way you work? 

It’s hard to say. There are those who’s work I admire like Nan Goldin or Ryan McGinley. But I don’t think they’ve influenced me much. I’d rather say it’s all the Flickr, Tumblr and other visual blogospehere community, all young talented photographers from all over the world who’s names I cannot even remember but who inspire me day by day. I’m so lucky to work in present time when sharing ideas and discovering each other is a matter of few clicks on your laptop keyboard.

I remember my childhood among run down factories and abandoned quarries where we used to swim. The weather normally was calm and foggy so the landscape always seemed to be blurred. Maybe that’s where my photography style comes from.

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be doing with your time? 

I would run my own coffee shop somewhere in Istanbul.

What do you dream of? 

World peace. Seriously this stereotype we’ve been making jokes for so long nowadays became truly important.

Biggest love? 

When in the morning while we’re still asleep our cat comes and puts his tushy as close to my body as possible. That’s the moment when you understand that you’re never gonna be alone.

Biggest hate? 

I hate when you already see the future shots in your head but after developing they are all fucked up. Also I hate when you loose your backpack full of finished films. It’s even worse then when you loose something expensive.

Can you tell us about your method of photography, and what inspires you as you work? 

I mostly take pictures of my friends and my girlfriend or strangers from the streets. I do not get emotionally involved much. The only emotion is understanding that I might never see this person again in my life. I’ve never been trying to tell some story or reflect somebody’s personality with my photos. I think it’s impossible. The only thing I’m trying to capture is a moment of life – a movement of hair, a sun ray on the face, patterns or some interesting details of clothes etc. I guess those moments are like a puzzle from life… 

… Recently I realised that serenity is the only thing that perhaps unites all of my works. It’s in the gaze and fine lines on the face of an old Greek fisherman, it’s in sky above burning rebellious Kiev, it’s in the green plant on the window of a desolate hospital. At least those things are eternal and do not require any value judgements.

Which photograph means the most to you and why? 

If I had to pick out one from my own photos that would be the picture of my friend Alya in Yalta. Alya is drinking homemade wine. You can see old pines and building of an old soviet health centre behind her. The pool looks half-abandoned. This is so cliché, typical image of Crimea. Crimea was annexed this year and became a part of Russia so from now not many of us will choose this destination. But there’s still nostalgia and many friends left there.

On your final assignment, you’ve been been given one role of film. Where do you go to shoot? 

I would go to Berlin for the shootings. But I don’t know what would I would shoot. Perhaps some book I haven’t yet read.

Berlin, Bears and Refugees