The Crucifixion of Vladislav Krasnošchok by Jean Loh

At Paris Photo 2022 I wandered around the photo rails to find a wall of tiny dark sepia marks, real silver marks. When I looked closely, I saw the bodies of tanks and the ruins of bombed buildings, and then I realized that the Ukrainian war had come to Paris Photo! One image in particular intrigued me: did this crucified Jesus lose his arm after blocking or deflecting a missile to prevent it from hitting a residential building behind him? This was explained to me by the translator of the gallery. Is it worth sacrificing an arm? This is a stunning, near-miraculous photograph from Ukrainian photographer Vladyslav Krasnoshchok’s war photography series, a series of war landscape photography, “theatres of barbarism.” There’s plenty of video coverage of the war in Ukraine, but Armageddon-style footage, bombs and shells, missiles and tanks and utter destruction is another horrifying experience. . They make me think of Felice Beato (1839-1909), the first active war photographer in China. Beato documented the aftermath of the British naval attack on Dagou Fort near Tianjin, China, during the Second Opium War (1860). Battlefield conditions, clutter, and the weight of photographic equipment made it impossible to capture vivid images such as Robert Capan’s famous “Death of a Missionary” (September 1936) or his “Day of the Normandy Landings.” (June 1944). Because of this, Beato is said to have even asked soldiers to position the corpses in such a way that his large-format camera was placed on glass plates, on a tripod, with the head under a dark cloth. they fit his frame.

One hundred and sixty-two years, from 1860 to 2022, separate China Beato’s theater of war from Kharkiv or Vladislav Krasnochok’s killing fields in Donetsk. If we ask ourselves the question between the aesthetics of war photography and the brutal atrocities, the greatest British war photographer, Don McCullen, said in a 2014 interview with the BBC about the “sound to deceive people”: “We can’t, we can all do the terrible things we can do to our fellow man. we must not allow ourselves to forget. Often these are images of atrocities… But I want to create a voice in these images and encourage people to look at them a little more, to leave with a conscious duty and not with a fearful memory. »

I asked Vladislav if he considers himself a photojournalist or an artist, if he is “connected” to the Ukrainian army, and he answered: “I consider myself, above all, an artist documenting the war. Imaginative and beautiful photography is important to me. Of course, I had to get accreditation from the Armed Forces of Ukraine. And some subjects are very difficult to shoot, you have to get additional permission every time. I see many dead and corpses. This is unpleasant. But I look at it as an artist, as an audience, I stay away from it. It is important for me to see the beauty of this horror, to convey the image of war. »

On August 6, 1943, during the Sicilian campaign, after the American army captured the town of Troina, Capa entered the devastated town with a team of mine detectors, finding “a city of horrors full of tears, men, hysterical women.” . Children who spent two terrible days under fire, saw their loved ones killed or wounded, their homes destroyed, and everything left to them mercilessly looted by the marching Nazis, quotes from Herbert Matthews’ book: a reporter’s education’ (Praeger 1971). The scene is almost similar to what we can imagine as the state of destruction or carnage in Ukrainian cities that are being bombarded mercilessly by Russian forces. In the images of Vladislav Krasnoščok, it is a black world of mud and water. Dead bodies (men and animals) lying on the side of the road, bridges blown over the black water, unexploded shells and rockets, one planted in front of the church as a tombstone… In this sad case, the Associated Press showed the scars of war, soldiers suffering from meningitis, bruises, amputations, lung and nerve inflammation, sleep disorders, skin diseases and cardiovascular diseases, etc. One warrior describes sleeping in muddy, frozen trenches for months. “We were working in conditions that were very bad for our health. It is damp and wet, we have pain in our backs and legs, we are carrying heavy equipment. And winter comes with snow and frost…

From a New Yorker article (June 2022): “Anti-war photographer” Jim Nachtwey sends this text from Ukraine before falling asleep: “The brutality and senselessness of the Russian attack is hard to believe, even though I witnessed it with my own eyes. Repeatedly bombing civilian homes, shelling homes and hospitals, military killing non-combatants in occupied territories is a tactic used by the Russians in a war against a neighboring sovereign state that poses no threat to anyone.. . . . his refusal to shy away from the true costs of conflict is part of a larger mission: to prevent the world from doing so.

After liberating Paris in August 1944, Capa, sitting in a hotel bar, mistakenly thought the war was over (in his somewhat out-of-focus book) On the Streets of Paris… Images of boys like those from the deserts of North Africa or the mountains of Italy would never be seen again. , never again would an invasion spill over the beach in Normandy, never again a liberation equal to freedom. Paris. But Capa was wrong and he paid for it with his life when he stepped on a mine in Indochina (05/25/1954).

Let’s go back to Vladyslav’s Jesus with a broken arm on his cross, this is a beautiful Orthodox cross, with three crosses, the upper bar is usually reserved for the inscription INRI (Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews), the longest central bar c. He nailed the hands of Jesus, and the bottom serves as a footstool, bent. As Jesus was crucified with two thieves, the crossbar pointing upward toward the thief on Jesus’ right is said to indicate that he was a “good” thief and therefore would go to heaven. On the other hand, the bar points down, which means that the thief is a “bad guy” and will go to hell. The war in Ukraine seems like a never-ending affair, but like all wars, it will end one day, until then, perhaps Vladislav Krasnoschok doesn’t need to be asked who the bad guy is.

John Loh

Vladyslav Krasnoshchok is represented by Alexandra de Viveiros nomadic gallery.

Vladyslav Krasnoshchok (born in 1980 in Kharkiv, Ukraine), studied at the Faculty of Dentistry of Kharkiv Medical University (1997-2002). In 2004-2018, he worked at the Kharkov Clinical Emergency Medical Hospital. Vladyslav has been actively involved in photography since 2008 and joined the Shilo group since 2010 (with Sergiy Lebedynskyy, Vadim Trykoz and Oleksiy Sobolev). He uses anonymous archival photos as well as documentary photography, which he alters aesthetically using various technical manipulations. He engages in hand-painting using techniques developed by Kharkiv photographers in the late 1970s. He also combines stills with sculptural objects and experiments with graphics, printmaking and painting, and street art.

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