A guide to the New East
New East Photo Prize
Danila Tkachenko

Russian photographer Danila Tkachenko explores the utopian striving for technological progress and its futility. His series Restricted Areas features aeroplanes, submarines, oil fields, mining towns and other Soviet accomplishments now in total neglect. His latest project Lost Horizon focuses on the legacy of the Soviet space programme, while paying homage in form to Kazimir Malevich’s avant-garde masterpiece Black Square.

I had never even considered photography before I moved in with girl who was a photographer. This was in 2009. Since that moment I've been interested in this medium and eventually decided to study at The Rodchenko Art School in Moscow.

I work with the topic of utopia in a wider sense as a metaphor for post-technological apocalypses. It took me three winters to shoot Restricted Areas and about one year of preliminary research. I always had in mind where I should go and what I needed to shoot. In the end the shooting took place in three former communist countries: Russia, Kazakhstan and Bulgaria.

Just like Restricted Areas, all the series I have produced have been an attempt to solve the puzzle of the surrounding world by the means of art. In fact the process is the same: searching for the right formal approach and researching through the internet.  

The Soviet Union is a good example of a failed utopia

Where Restricted Areas is a dystopia, Lost Horizon is a utopia. I think that the Soviet Union is a good example of a failed utopia. Nowadays people gradually lose faith in different utopias but then they get bored and start to dream up new ones. I consider that rethinking the Soviet experience is important for humanity to not make mistakes like that.

I like to see what’s happening in photography today. This medium appeared not so long ago and has been in a process of transformation ever since. I think that it’s the most relevant medium for the contemporary world because it can be presented quickly and consumed even faster.

Text and image: Danila Tkachenko
Interview: Liza Premiyak

Danila Tkachenko’s Lost Horizon will be on display at the New East Photo Prize exhibition at Calvert 22 until 18 December. You can find more information on the show here
Book now for the New East Photo Weekend 2 – 3 December.

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