Ukrainians.. together

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Nov. 14, 2011, 4:13 p.m. | Op-ed — by Leigh Turner
The metal of the factory gleams in the sun. Around it, gathered on walkways around three steel structures and massed in the space in front, stand hundreds of workers, some in hard hats, others in lab coats or shirts and ties.

Welcome to the world of Igor Gaidai, one of Ukraine’s top photographers, who recently put on an excellent show at the “Art Arsenal” in Kyiv.

I first became aware of Igor Gaidai when a kind person gave me his book “Ukrainians at the start of the third millennium“.

It’s a sympathetic and lushly-illustrated depiction of over a hundred Ukrainian people, some famous, some not.

Some of the famous ones have changed a great deal since the photographs were taken; others, less so.

The exhibition at the Art Arsenal, which unfortunately has now closed, revolves around another project by Gaidai, “Together”, a series of special large-format photographs of groups of Ukrainians including factory workers, country villagers and church communities.

During a visit to the exhibition I have the privilege of meeting Igor Gaidai and his wife Nina, who a video shows playing a vital part in the “Together” series marshalling the subjects into what turn out to be an outstanding and in some cases moving series of pictures.

I wish them luck and look forward to further exhibitions.

Those workers, by the way, were at the “Titan” factory in Crimea. You can see the full photoset, including pictures showing how the main photograph was taken, here.

Leigh Turner has been the British Ambassador to Ukraine since June 2008. You can read all his blog entries at (in English) or (Ukrainian)
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