Russia, Ukraine, Georgia & The Caucasus
George Georgiou
Lucia Ganieva
Mila Teshaieva
Rafal Milach
Donald Weber
Olga Kravets
Maria Morina
Oksana Yushko
Justyna Mielnikiewicz
Alexander Chekmenev
17.05.14 - 20.07.14
In 2014 Side Gallery is developing a series of three Eurovisions exhibitions, linked to the 25th
anniversary of the coming down of the Berlin Wall. The first, back in January, ALL THAT
FALLS drew on works held in our collection and explored both the events of 1989 and the
links Side made with Czech photographers before and after the borders opened.
LEGACY, the second of these exhibitions, is concerned with new work. It looks at the new East-
West borderlands of the former Soviet Union republics, where struggles for independence
and identity take place against an intensifying backdrop of a geo-political battle between
Russian and European Union.
Through a series of imaginative landscapes, the exhibition explores shared histories,
isolation and engagement, tradition and the desire for modernity. It has been curated by
George Georgiou, who brings his own work, IN THE SHADOW OF THE BEAR, and celebrates
some of the best documentary photography coming out of this torn and fertile ground.
This is a document looking at the aftermath of the peaceful “colour” revolutions that took
place in Georgia and Ukraine against the backdrop of Russia’s resurgence as a major
international power and it’s continuous interference in their sovereign and domestic affairs.
The work makes a visual connection between the overlapping territories of Nation and
Empire by looking at the signs in the domestic and public spheres. When taken together,
they build up a representation of how the people of Georgia and Ukraine negotiate the space
that they find themselves in and the historical, cultural and social landscape that links them
all together.
George Georgiou is a British photographer who has worked extensively in the Balkans,
Eastern Europe and Turkey. The curator of this exhibition, he has previously shown Between
the Lines and Fault Lines: Turkey/East/West at Side Gallery.
Following an exploratory trip to Chernobyl in 2005, Donald Weber returned to the abandoned
site of the nuclear disaster and spent the next six years photographing in Russia and Ukraine.
Weber began to see the modern State as a primitive sacrificial rite of unnamed Power.
The photographs from the interrogation room of a Ukrainian police station are a result of his
personal quest to uncover the hidden meaning of the bloody 20th Century. The policemen,
working girls, thugs, dissidents and hustlers who inhabit this story are all orphans of a secret
History; the outlines of our collective fate takes shape in Weber’s epic work, expanding our
awareness of what it means to be an actor in today’s dark opera.
Donald Weber is a Canadian photographer, based in California, USA. He has been documenting
Russia and Ukraine since the Orange Revolution of 2004.
DREAMING WALLS | Lucia Ganieva
Dreaming is a state of release of reality, where there are no limitations and nothing is
impossible. Each person has his own individual way to create a dreamworld.
A special way to materialise dreams I encountered when visiting the Udmurt people in
Russia. In their homes I was immediately struck by the photographic wallpapers, that were
everywhere around.
Decorating their homes with photowallpaper is a way to materialise their dreams of exotic
places, places they will never be able to visit but in their dreams. These wall decorations
have fully become part of the interiors, and, like the dreams of the inhabitants have no clear
Lucia Ganieva was born in Russia, but has been living in the Netherlands since 1993.
PHOTOGRAPHS | Justyna Mielnikiewicz
The Caucasus entered my life unexpectedly, in 1998, when two Georgian musicians ended up
staying at my house in Poland. They made toasts, sang songs and told many stories of their
lives and country; stories that revealed both an intense pride of their Georgian identity and
utmost bitterness about what their country had become. I had planned to explore the East for
some time and eventually spent the summer of 2001 in Georgia.
The three day bus-trip became a discovery in itself. The Turks I met along the way commented
on my bravery to travel to ‘dangerous Georgia’. Corrupt Georgian officials at the border
demanded endless fees for improvised pretexts; yet there were also protective people round
to help. Then my first cross-country trip: along the sides of the road, the history of a thousand
years; empty factories and crumbling mosaics. I returned a year later with the intent of staying
only a year, but I’m still here. Woman with a Monkey is a tribute to this unpredictable, timeless,
Fellini-esque country, both cruel and hilarious, which has become my second homeland.
Justyna Mielnikiewicz is based in Tbilisi, Georgia and works mainly in the countries of the
former Soviet Union.
The fertile Ukraine – Hitler dreamt of it but Stalin planted this land. They are long gone but
the fertile land of Ukraine continues to yield a crop in slabs of concrete. Its surface is covered
with cracks and rust-colored patches but it is still firmly set in the ground. It is like the
prickings of conscience in the Black Sea’s fable-like landscapes, reminding us that changes
come only slowly.
Only a few years have passed since the Orange Revolution and people have already lost their
hope. They are confused and tired of political chaos. They were not better off in the past. But
there was an order. And now their lot has not improved and there is no order either.
Let Eastern Ukraine along with Crimea return to Russia, and the West of the country join the
European Union, says Alexandr sipping his beer. He is 25 and has plenty of time to drink beer
even though he officially works in a hotel in Alushta. Once the whole Soviet Union took its
holidays in the resorts of the Black Sea. They left behind Soviet architecture, mentality and
Based in Warsaw, Poland, Rafal Milach is a founder member of the Sputnik Photos collective,
set up in 2006 to document transition issues in Central Eastern European countries.
Twenty years ago, the boundaries of three new sovereign states were mapped along the
shores of the Caspian Sea. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan emerged from the
wreckage of the Soviet Union. The rapid oil- fueled transformation of these societies and the
newfound quest for national identity has left many of the citizens isolated, unable to locate
themselves in the midst of these changes.
Hope, ambition, greed and uncertainty have been defining factors as these new littoral states
attempt to integrate themselves into the world political economy. Ambitious projects appear
one by one, aiming to build a national pride to replace that lost Soviet one. But they are only
a facade. Along the central roads in Baku, it is fixed to old and rotten Soviet blocks. History
repeats itself in new clothes: Golden statues of the new presidents replace the concrete
statues of workers. And those living behind the facade become even more invisible, dragged
down by the past, stuck in their ravaged surroundings. This is a journey into the loss of
direction and a portrait of dignity as people try to find a new way.
Mila Teshaieva was born in Kiev, Ukraine, and currently lives in Berlin. In her photography
she focuses on societies in transition.
| Olga Kravets, Maria Morina, and Oksana Yushko
Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, is a melting pot for changing Caucasus society, trying to
overcome the trauma of two recent wars and find its own way in between traditional Chechen
values, Muslim traditions, and globalisation. The project explores nine cities hidden in one,
reduced to rubble, each an aspect of the aftermath of two Chechen wars - the city that has
ceased to exist, the city of war, the city of religion, the city of women, the city of men, the city
of the nation’s servants as they call themselves, the city of oil, the city of strangers in a mono-
ethnic society and the city of ordinary people.
Grozny: Nine Cities is a photo novel, connecting all of the individual stories and bigger than
the sum of its parts.
Maria Morina, Olga Kravets and Oksana Yushko are Russian photographers who have been
working together on this joint project since 2009, shortly after they founded Verso Images, a
collective of emerging photographers interested in social change in the former USSR. The
installation is a result of collaboration with visual musician Jose Bautista and curator Anna
WARRIORS | Alexander Chekmenev
This Side Gallery exhibition was planned in 2013, before the recent revolution in Ukraine,
the consequences of which are continuing to unfold. These portraits are from the February
revolution and the barricades of Euromaidan in Kiev.
Alexander Chekmenev was born in Lugansk, Ukraine. He graduated in 1990 from the
Department of Newspaper Photography of Moscow State University and currently works for
Vseukrainskiye Vedomosti, a Ukranian daily newspaper. He lives and works in Kiev.

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