Anatoliy Kuzmenko, meeting of the Kharkiv regional photo club at the Trade Unions House of Amateur Arts. MOKSOP collection, gift from the Rupin family
Kharkiv School of Photography was formed not only, and not so much thanks to a certain set of methods, but through close interaction within the community. Constant communication and discussions were the fuel that kept it going.
Viktor Kochetov, Vremya group exhibition (1983). MOKSOP collection
The bright and mythologized Kharkiv artists' collective gesture was the proclamation of the Vremia group's manifesto at their first exhibition in the House of Scientists (then the center of culture, science, and art) in 1983, the exhibition that did not last for more than a day.
Igor Manko, late 1980s. MOKSOP collection
The history of Kharkiv photography is to a great measure a history of groups. Thus, in the mid-1980s, the Kontakty group was created. In 1987, it became the Gosprom group with a slightly modified membership.
Igor Manko, late 1980s. MOKSOP collection
An important interaction format for Kharkiv artists was group walks around the city and spontaneous photographing. The main characters were photographers themselves, such as Konstantin Melnyk and Volodymyr Starko, who are posing in this picture.
Roman Pyatkovka, from In the Absence of a Violin, 1988. Silver gelatin print, MOKSOP collection
Travel would also become a time for collective projects, such as this footage during the festival "Photovacation-88" in Bulgaria. The title of the series by Roman Pyatkovka refers to the textbook project The Violin by Evgeniy Pavlov (1972).
Roman Pyatkovka, May 15th, 1987. Artist's archive
On May 15th, 1987, the event "A Day in the Life of the Soviet Union" took place, to which 50 Western and 50 Soviet photographers contributed, simultaneously photographing life in several cities of the USSR. Kharkiv photographers supported this initiative by holding their own, parallel event documenting unsightly moments of May 15th, 1987.
Roman Pyatkovka, from The Witch Sabbath, 1988. Silver gelatin print, MOKSOP collection
Lacking their own studios, artists joined efforts, among other things, to find space for photoshoots. Oftentimes communal apartments served as locations, as in this series by Roman Pyatkovka, which was filmed together with Boris Mikhailov.
Viktor and Sergiy Kochetovs, Photo for the Exhibition on Ivanov Street, 1992. Silver gelatin print, MOKSOP collection
For their joint exhibition “Painted Reality", Boris Mikhailov and Viktor Kochetov needed a poster and decided to stage an improvised session at the children’s playground. It was arranged by Mikhailov and shot by Viktor's son, Sergiy.
Sergei Solonsky and Sergey Bratkov, Untitled, 1992—1993. Silver gelatin print, MOKSOP collection
Even in the 1990s crisis, a sense of common cause motivated the artists. Here, 'young Kharkiv lions' Sergey Bratkov and Sergei Solonsky take an ironic look at their own ambitions, 'cosplaying' a famous bridge in St. Petersburg.
Opening of the "Neophoto Expressionism" exhibition (1994) by Boris Mikhailov, Sergei Solonsky and Sergey Bratkov at the Kharkiv Art Museum. MOKSOP collection
The Group of Immediate Reaction shifted the focus from photography to action, filling their exhibition openings with performative elements. On the photo is the opening of the exhibition (which was closed the following day) at the Kharkiv Art Museum.
The Shilo group , from the series Tymoshenko's Escape, 2012. MOKSOP collection
The Shilo group continued the Kharkiv School of photography tradition of collective action. In this travesty project, photographers pose against the backdrop of the night landscapes of Kharkiv, bearing the image of the prominent politician Yulia Tymoshenko who was then imprisoned in Kharkiv at the Kachanivka penal institution — a case seen by many Western observers as political persecution by the President Yanukovych's regime.
The Shilo group , from the series Ukrainian Insurgent Army Hände hoch!, 2013 — ongoing
The Shilo group follows up on the idea of the photographer as the main protagonist, this time trying on images of members of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (a military group that fought against the Soviet regime in World War II). Through the desacralization of their images, the authors address the problem of the political manipulation of historical memory in modern Ukraine.