Elena Subach and Viacheslav Poliakov live and work mostly in Lviv. But it is not a “cultural capital” they have chosen as their artistic subject, but its symbolic antipode: The Ukrainian suburbia. Every weekend, they set on little journey to a small town or a village, to immerse themselves into local visuality and/or public rituals: A unicorn of pastel colours made of used tires. A fragment of white brick facade with an amateur picture of a horse carefully mounted onto it. Patterns and ornaments on the dresses and scarves of parishioners and endless Virgin-Maries of a naive palette. All of that creates a weird universe of a vernacular and mostly anonymous creativity. The cameras of Subach and Poliakov take these objects out of their routine surrounding, yet avoid mockery. On the contrary—the artists enthusiastically document this material world.
The artists have their individual practices, but also work as a duo and collaborate with other authors. In particular, their very own travel photography method was formed during “Stralls With Pleasure And Not Without Morality” – occasional short journeys to the cities and towns of Galicia at the invitation of Lviv photographer Kostia Smolianinov. Outcomes of these photo tours were presented on several curatorial projects, in particular, at the exhibition in the art gallery “YA Gallery” (Dnipro, 2016). The most relevant ones were also displayed at the major Festival of Young Artists at Mystetskyi Arsenal (Kyiv, 2017). We had a privilege to co-curate both of them and closely follow the development of these extraordinary artists for several years. We were thrilled to be presenting the artists’ very first solo exhibitions in Ukraine in the Naked Room and open our gallery programme with their significant projects.
Elena Subach and Viacheslav Poliakov are among the key representatives of the new Ukrainian photography. Their international careers has been rapidly growing in recent years. In 2017 Poliakov presented a personal project for the celebrated Foam Talent (Amsterdam), got a publication in The British Journal of Photography, and was awarded with the Vienna Photobook Festival Award. Subach was twice short-listed in the prestigious New East Photo Prize and participated in numerous international photography fairs and forums. In November 2018, they entered the shortlist of the Bird In Flight Award with a collaborative project.