At Paris Photo 2022, I turned a corner and was captured by a wall of small sepia prints, those were the original silver gelatin prints. When I looked closely I saw the corpse of tanks and the ruins of bombed buildings, I suddenly realized that the Ukraine war had reached Paris Photo! One image in particular caught my attention: Did this crucified Jesus lose his arm after deflecting a missile or being kept from crashing into an apartment building behind him? Was that worth sacrificing one of his arms for? This is an amazing almost miraculous image from the war photography series by Ukrainian photographer Vladislav Krasnochuk, this is a post image of combat landscape photography, more “Barbarian Theatre”. There is an abundance of video reporting of the Ukraine war, but looking at an Armageddon-style still image of bombs and destruction is a different, goosebumps experience. From the archives of Chinese photography, the first active war photographer in China was Felice Beato (1839-1909). Beato recorded the aftermath of the attack by British naval forces on the Dagu forts near Tianjin, China, during the Second Opium War (1860). Conditions on the battlefield, and the bulky and heavy weight of photographic equipment certainly did not allow fast live action shots such as Robert Capa’s famous “Falling Soldier” (September 1936) or “D-Day landings on Omaha Beach” (June 1944) to be captured. Therefore, Beato reduced to exposing scenes of destruction and corpses in his large format camera, on a tripod and under a dark cloth, it was reported that he ordered the soldiers to arrange the corpses so that they would fit his frame. .
From 1860 to 2022, 162 years separate Beitou’s Chinese theater of war from the Kharkiv or Donetsk killing fields of Vladislav Krasnochuk. If we struggle between the aesthetics of war photography and barbaric atrocities, Britain’s greatest war photographer Don McCullin said this about “Sound to Seduce People”, in a 2014 BBC interview: “We cannot, and must not be allowed to forget, the horrible things we can all do for our fellow human beings.” McCullen wants to convince us to keep looking, despite the unspeakable horror. “They’re often horrible images…but I want to create a sound for the people in those images, I want the sound to entice people to hang on a little longer when they’re looking at them, so they go away not with the intimidation of a memory but with a conscious commitment.”
I asked Vladislav if he considered himself a photo-journalist or an artist, and whether he was “part of” the Ukrainian army, and he replied: “I consider myself first and foremost an artist documenting war. Beautiful fantasy photography is important to me. Of course, I had to get accreditation.” From the Armed Forces of Ukraine. And it’s very difficult to shoot certain targets, you always have to get additional permission. I see a lot of corpses and corpses. It’s unpleasant. But I look at it as an artist, as a viewer, I move away from it. It’s important for me to see the beauty in this Horror, to convey the image of war.
On the 6th of August 1943 during the Sicilian Campaign, after the town of Troina was captured by the US Army, Capa entered the ruined town with several mine detection teams, and found a “town of terror, living by weeping, hysterical men and women. The children who had been there for two horrible days” of being bombed and bombed, of seeing their loved ones dead or wounded, their homes destroyed and all that is left plundered mercilessly by the departing Nazis,” these are quotes from Herbert Matthews’ book: “The Education of the Reporter” (Praeger 1971). The scene is almost like what we can imagine to be a case of devastation or carnage in the Ukrainian towns that were bombed and bombed mercilessly by Russian forces. Whereas Capa saw the sand and dust of Italy, Vladislav Krasnochuk’s images are a world of mud, water and darkness. Corpses (men and animals) lying by the roadside, collapsed bridges over black water, unexploded shells and rockets, one of which was planted in front of a church like a tombstone… Amid the gloom of a war-ravaged land, the Associated Press described the psychological scars of war, soldiers suffering from inflammation meningitis, trauma, amputations, lung and nerve infections, sleep disorders, skin diseases, and cardiovascular diseases, among others.” One fighter described sleeping for months in muddy, cold trenches. We worked in conditions that were bad for our health. It was bad. It’s wet, it’s wet, we have backaches, we have leg pains, we carry heavy equipment.” Snow and icy weather is coming.
From The New Yorker (June 2022): Anti-war photographer Jim Nachtoy in Ukraine sent this text before falling asleep: “It is hard to believe and not understand the barbarity of the Russian offensive even as I watch them with my own eyes. The shelling and shelling of civilian dwellings, the firing of tank shells into homes and hospitals, And the killing of non-combatants in militarily occupied areas are all tactics used by the Russians in a war waged against a neighboring sovereign country that is not threatened…. “Ordinary” people display extraordinary courage and determination, if not outright intransigence, in the face of massive destruction and loss of life.” His refusal to look away from the true costs of conflict belongs to a larger mission: to prevent the world from doing so.
After the liberation of Paris in August 1944, Capa mistakenly thought the war was over, as, sitting in the bar of the Scribe Hotel, he wrote (in a sliver of emphasis) “I was sounding the knell for the noble art of war photography, finished in the streets of Paris… I will not There shall again be pictures of children of dough such as those in the deserts of North Africa or the mountains of Italy, and there shall be no conquest again to surpass that of the Normandy shore, and there shall never be a liberation equal to Paris.” He was wrong and paid the price with his life when he stepped on a land mine in Indochina (5/25/1954).
Let’s go back to Jesus with one arm of Vladislav on his cross, this is a beautiful orthodox cross, it has three crossbeams, the upper crossbar is usually for the inscription INRI (Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews), the longest horizontal bar is where Jesus’ hands are nailed, the lower one serves as a footrest , which is slanted. Because Jesus was crucified with two other thieves, the footstool bar pointing to the thief on Jesus’ right is said to mean he was a “good” thief so he will go to heaven, on the other side the bar pointing down means the “bad” thief will go go to hell. War seems to be a never-ending business, but it must eventually end like all wars. There is no need to ask Vladislav Krasnochuk who is the evil man who will go to hell.
Vladislav Krasnochuk is represented by Alexandra de Viveros by Gallery Nomad www.alexandradeviveiros.com
Vladislav Krasnochuk (born 1980 in Kharkiv, Ukraine), taught at the Department of Dentistry at Kharkiv Medical University (1997-2002). From 2004 to 2018 he worked at the Kharkiv State Clinical Hospital for Emergency Aid. Vladislav has been actively practicing photography since 2008 and has joined the Shilo Group since 2010 (together with Sergei Lebedinsky, Vadim Trikoz and Oleksiy Sobolev). Apart from the documentary photography which alters it aesthetically by using various technical manipulations, it also uses images from anonymous archives. He practices hand-colouring from the methods that developed in Kharkiv photography in the late 1970s. He also combines snapshots, sculptural objects, and experiments with graphic art, etching, and street art.