Workcamera — Igor Chursin

Workcamera — Igor Chursin
  • Halomania 1991-1993

  • Ukrainian-Mongolian Folk Art 1994

  • Bizarre 2006

  • A Ukrainian Spy in New York 2009

  • Workcamera with People 2011

  • Pastures of Podol 2013

  • Random works 2019-2020

Igor Chursin (b. 1962, now lives in Kyiv) joined the Kharkiv art photography scene in 1989 with a portrait project. In 19911993 he came up with Halomania  a series of decadent staged black-and-white or hand-colored images. The series was produced in collaboration with the artist Sergey Shmat who drew on Chursin’s black and white photographs and colored them using pencil, chalk, or airbrush.

Halos and crescents, exotic props, mysterious ambiance, emphatic facial expressions and erotic poses of the models reveal the artist's ironic attitude to the pomp of commercial art tastes. N. Vakulina in her essay on Chursin's Halomania (Halomania, Top Foto, Feb. 1998, p.92) states that the images are simultaneously reminiscent of mass-produced calendars on religious themes and pseudo-pornographic postcards (at that time both products were illegally sold to train passengers by supposedly 'dumb' peddlers).

© Igor Chursin. Halomania

In the early 1990s, Igor Chursin was renting a commercial photography studio where he earned a living by making passport photos. It was the time when Ukraine became an independent state (1991), and Ukrainians needed new national passports. After decades of isolation, they could now travel behind the Iron Curtain to the West. In 1994 the artist immortalized that period in Ukraine's post-Soviet history producing his stunning Ukrainian-Mongolian Folk Art collages that consisted of hundreds of hand-colored passport photo images.

© Igor Chursin. Kama Sutra, 1994

The artist’s work of 20002015 is marked with a somewhat radical choice of photographic tools: Chursin claims that he exceptionally uses either large-format cameras or his smartphone without compromising in-between. He also assumed an alias Workcamera to sign his new work.

The Bizarre project images (2006) were taken in a sex shop, where his models tried on different kinds of attire. Three panels of 18 images each make the total of 54  enough for a deck of erotic playing cards, another allusion to a once-popular illegal Soviet souvenir.

Igor Chursin likes provocation. His 2011 Workcamera with People series shows the artist befriending strangers in their working environment in front of his camera. The 2009 A Ukrainian Spy in New York is a series of humorous selfies taken in the crowd waiting for the presidential cortege to pass by. The session ended with the artist being reported to a cop by the vigilant citizens and his camera checked by the police.

In the 2013 Pastures of Podol series, Chursin resorts to his favorite staged photography. His models recreate scenes of temptation using props that denote various kinds of drugs found in the drug addicts' argot (like ‘coconut’ for cocaine). The images are set in a park located in the Podol district in Kyiv.

The artist’s recent work follows his favorite approaches — large prints (Green Water is 180х145 cm), often composed of multiple photos, and grotesque imagery.