At the beach you watch others and they watch you. I did my watching through this ‘hole’. My images are what they are, merely windows on the reality of the seaside.
Ukraine-born photographer Kirill Golovchenko grew up along the Black Sea, in the town of Odessa, the country's fourth-largest city. Inspired by his childhood spent along the Black Sea coast, his latest series of pictures draws the parallel of the beach, described by the artist as a public place of freedom and the poeple who go there. "People go to the beach, take off their clothes, lie down next to other people they don’t know, swim, eat, tan, and drink. It’s a great feeling on the seaside, calming and threatening at the same time. Life on the beach is very varied. The beach is a universal theme and in this case part of the cultural world of the Ukraine."
At the time, his 5 years old daughter learnt how to swim. He took her blue rubber ring, "as blue as the black sea", and took a picture through it.
"The circular image it created reminds me of a ship’s porthole. Also, the circle resembles a telescope lens and had a touch of the voyeuristic about it. It fits the beach, and not just as a formal device. For me, the tyre helped me learn to swim. At the beach you watch others and they watch you. I did my watching through this ‘hole’. It seemed spontaneous and fun while taking the photos. There was something of the performance about it and yet I also felt invisible as a consequence," explains Golovchenko whose series has been awarded the European Photo Exhibition Award. "The swimming ring conceals you, isolates you, but also makes you visible. It helps you focus, both as the photographer and as the observer. It’s like a pin-hole, a spotlight illuminating a certain situation for a brief moment. What’s important is that the viewer recognizes the shape of the swimming tyre and when viewing the images is taken to another level, one between staged reality and documented reality."
Overcrowded beaches, sunburt tourists, sleepy heads, sandy feet, and playful afternoons... Both weird and wonderful, his shots capture the intimacy of the seaside scenes of his home country. "My images are what they are, merely windows on the reality of the seaside. Most images are direct observations captured using a camera: seen briefly, and then they’re over. I’ve always needed to be close up to people, to almost be part of them, which is like saying I was never just an observer but also a holidaymaker. One of them."
Last year, Kirill Golovchenko launched a book of the same name compiling pictures and a short story about his childhood. The "Out of the Blue" 104-pages book is the first one issued in the Contemporary Ukrainian Photographers Series, launched by Rodovid Press (Kyiv, Ukraine) and UPHA.
Discover Kirill Golovchenko's work on his website.