Created in 2016, Join The Cool creative collective united such photographers as Genia Volkov, Anastasiya Lazurenko, Kristina Podobed and Daria Svertilova. Working across photography, performance and mixed media the four artists come together to work regularly on projects which touch on social topics, as well as factors of human life: love, teenage years, past generations’ legacy, culture, traditions, cliches and so forth.
‘Vinietka (Ukrainian graduation album)’, 2017, is a collaborative project that reveals the touching and gloomy reality of school life in Ukraine.
The Graduation Album is an entirely unique phenomenon, emblematic of the culmination of school years. Ukrainian grads don’t wear gowns, and they don’t throw caps into the air. Nevertheless a lot of preparation goes into Vinietka — investing in a photographer, putting on the best make-up, donning the best outfits. Year after year, post-Soviet grads religiously follow Vinietka tradition. In our Vinietka story, the tricks and cliches are reimagined, recycled for our “post-post-Soviet” age. We show the real graduates, their gawky, unpolished sides, the behind-the-scenes boozing and puppy love, the foolishness, the vulnerability, and the growing self-awareness, as they emerge from the stifling cocoon of their school years.
‘Kuyalnik love-stories’, 2016, Kuyalnik is the name of the estuary situated on the south of Ukraine — neither a sea nor a lake, it’s a kind of reservoir, a tiny part of The Black Sea. This place is undoubtedly unique: thanks to its medicinal mud the first mud clinic in Russian Empire was built here in the XIXth century. Later on, in Soviet times the clinic became the biggest sanatorium in Ukraine. Since then it hasn’t changed so much: monumental concrete buildings, strict schedule based daily regimes, old people wandering around — all of this gives you the feeling that time has stopped here since 70’s or 80’s. At the same time, the estuary and its area attract lots of youngsters to organize rave parties as well as a lot of «wedding photographers» to shoot love-strories there. That’s why we decided to combine this mainstream idea with our vision and perception of this place.
We wanted to create a play on the contrast of the sanatorium gloom and the vitality of young couples — our friends and the youngsters we know. Youth is a rebellion, newness and speed — all the notions that are opposite to the sanatorium.
KUYALNIK love stories, 2016