OPENING: September 29, 1 pm

Oleksandr Glyadyelov is one of the key Ukrainian documentary photographers. His professional activity lasting more than three dozen years is practically the same age as state independence. As a photographer, Glyadyelov cooperates with numerous international humanitarian organizations, in particular with Doctors without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres), highlighting acute social problems and military conflicts. He is the winner of the highest state award in Ukraine in the field of culture – the Shevchenko Prize – for the “Carousel” project. This project, which is the collection of images from different places and times since the 90s, includes the main motifs of Glyadyelov’s practice – painful, exposed social zones: prisoners of colonies, homeless children, and war. During his long and saturated with hot-spots professional career, Glyadyelov managed to cover military conflicts in Moldova, Nagorno-Karabakh, Chechnya, Kyrgyzstan, Somalia, and South Sudan. Ever since Russia brought war to his own country 8 years ago, the photographer has been covering the warfare on the territory of Ukraine. Previously, it was Donbas, where Glyadyelov was injured during the tragic Ilovaisk boiler in 2014. And now, in 2022, he didn’t have to go far to shoot – a full-scale war at the end of February itself came to Kyiv – the capital of Ukraine, where the photographer lives.

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At the exhibition, one can see footage, in particular, from the city of Irpin — once a cozy suburb of Kyiv, surrounded by pine forests, but now completely destroyed by the shelling of the occupying forces. Glyadelov filmed the evacuation of the civilian population from the town crushed by the explosions through the destroyed bridge, which lasted under unceasing shelling. The exhibition also includes photos from Bucha, Gostomel, Borodyanka, Moschun, Kharkiv, Zaporizhia, Chuguiv, Mala Rohan, Bakhmut and Kramatorsk.

Glyadyelov, who does not part with his camera and with Ukraine either, although many residents of the country have left it these days, fleeing the threat of war. From the first day of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the country’s capital, along with other cities, was subject to constant airstrikes and missile attacks. All this time, Oleksandr has been documenting hostilities and their consequences throughout the country.

Glyadyelov’s lens is sharp, attentive and, at the same time, humanistic. It is far from the detached “coldness” of the usual reportage view, but it is not speculative either. There is a distance in it, sufficient enough to leave the subject its subjectivity, and the right to its own space — Glyadyelov does not “peer into the soul”, he does not manipulate emotions. But he is not a detached observer, he is an involved participant whose empathy is delicate and unobtrusive. This hidden meaning can be found in the composition of each frame – whether it is a lone man in a cart, a shaggy dog ​​on the road or a shell-damaged house. It is seen as if in a mirror, one can spot it in the faces of the people in the pictures that the author chooses – whether military, or volunteers, or civilians – full of pain or despair, determination, concentration or confusion, but always full of dignity.

The curator of the exhibition is Oleg Sosnov
Natalia Matsenko

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  • Date: September 29, 2022
  • Venue: Cherwell College Art Gallery, 51 Cornmarket, OX1 3HA