an exploration of time and transition through captured images of life in a ukrainian city.

PRESENCE | OBECNOŚĆ | ПРИСУТНІСТЬ photographs of lviv by ihor krut
International Cultural Centre, Krakow, 2011

Ihor Krut Photography: Presence brochure

The works in this exhibition form photographic documentation of contemporary Lviv's urban landscape.

Their author — a Ukrainian photographer resident in Canada — adopts as his method a type of flânerie roaming the city in search of interesting motifs.

The Lviv of Krut's photographs is a place of contrasts — vestiges of previous system mingle with symbols of nascent capitalism. And it is this aspect of suspension between the old and the new that the artist, by his own admission, finds the most fascinating.

The places, people and quotidian situations captured on the photographs combine amusingly, sometimes reflectively to form a subjective portrait of the city and its residents.

The works represented here however are not merely a documentation of the present but through the author's situation introduce an additional feature — they engage memory and reference the past.

This album, first and foremost, is anthropology. A cruelly fantastic black & white anthropology by Krut.

Let's try to list what's in it.

We've got street kids with bikes, bottles, balls and machine guns. These bring to mind an urban guerrilla force, but we might not live to see that, that's still in the future […]

We've got blue-collar workers, who look more like medieval slaves or circus wrestlers forced into early retirement […]

And here are fragments of architecture, bits of fortifications, walls, doors, windows, which remind us… Do they really still remind us? No, they don't remind us of anything, because those who might still remember anything are gone! […]

And also patriotic, quasi-militaristic gatherings, red & black in black & white.

And also people, who: are talking on their cell phones, praying, waiting, feverishly playing chess, doing nothing, not doing anything, aren't making a fuss about anything.

And also: elements of religiosity, and allusions to devoutness (devoid of substance), embodied in crosses.

And also: window frames, car tires, a baby carriage, gas tanks, junk.

And also lots and lots of other things that have no name.

And that's what is most interesting — they don't have a name, but they exist, and this whole album is, first of all an affirmation of the fact that "existence is the strangest of all things."
[yuri andrukhovych]

This exhibition is another attempt to show the many different ways of seeing the landscape of a city and its changing meanings. We are talking about the contemporary image of the city and its residents captured in the lens of an émigré artist.

The picture is bursting with visual contrasts.

We can witness that the Lviv streets have not frozen in time, they live the life of their residents and are constantly changing. We see the contradictions in the overlapping layers of different cultures — contradictions between the past and the future, which are nevertheless reconciled by… the present.

The black and white photographs with their half-shadows emphasise the archaic retro mood despite the fact that capitalism is inexorably breaking through the old walls and covering them up with a layer of trashy adverts. […]

The beauty - in other words the potentially pleasing images — is essentially unattractive.

This paradoxical aesthetic quality edged with ambiguity is sometimes painfully beautiful, although it lasts only a moment.

And Ihor Krut captures it.
[zhanna komar, international cultural centre]

Who else can believe that a photo can provide evidence?
It is a mark, and therefore it is poetic.
[françois soulages, esthétique de la photographie]

The series Presence has been being created since 2004.

Its author, Ihor Krut, returns to Ukraine after many years spent as an émigré, and from a new perspective observes and records Lviv, the town of his youth, once the backdrop to his more or less personal experiences.

In Presence the author does not seek to carry out an objective analysis of the reality he finds, but, as he says himself, tries to "tell stories about nostalgia for childhood, about the passing of time and the resilience of hope, and to capture the essential and universal in people's lives rather than simply depict specific images of contemporary Ukraine." […]

Ihor Krut's photographs, like the products of Cartier-Bresson's "hunting expeditions", are closed compositions with a clearly emphasised "decisive moment".

This tendency is especially visible in the street scenes with people, examples being the scene of a street demonstration or the boys playing soldiers.

However, similarly powerful content is expressed in the images of inanimate objects: house walls, advertising posters, a sculpture of Lenin's head. […]

Krut's photographs, being part of the tradition of humanistic reportage, are always about something, they propound an argument, create a precisely defined dramatic narrative, often of a clearly anecdotal nature, and not without humour.

The series Presence spans the space between "there is" and "there is not", "now" and "then", "proximity" and "distance". The adult Krut returning to Lviv presents himself through his photographs not as a participant in the city's life, not as one of its elements, but as an observer from a distance, adhibiting the pictures from his memory into contemporary situations.

The town ceases to be a reality, it becomes a field of mythical imagination. […]

These are just a few of the themes in the series Presence, which are a rediscovery of the author's own old reactions in the behaviour of the next generation, as if he wanted to experience his old emotions again. But is that possible?

There is no way of going back to a bygone reality or of turning back time. The use in the title of a word which in its meaning is an ostentatious confirmation of existence may be misleading on the one hand.

On the other, however, it can been seen as a form of incantation giving access to the impossible.
[monika kozień-świca]