Let Us Not Fall Asleep While Walking.
Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, after which it declared itself a neutral state. In 2013, protests broke out in downtown Kiev after.president Yanukovych’s government decided to suspend the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement and at the same time strengthen the economic ties with Russia. Months of demonstrations and protests known as The Euromaidan escalated into the 2014 Ukrainian revolution which ultimately resulted in the overthrowing of Yanukovych and the establishment of a new government. These events preceded both the annexation of Crimea by Russia in March 2014 and the still ongoing war in Donbass.
In collaboration with the citizens of Kiev, “Let Us Not Fall Asleep While Walking” shapes their experience into metaphorical depictions where time seems frozen, but dreams of hope still linger. The series, which consists of 137 photos to match the death toll of the Euromaidan riots, is an attempt to capture the repercussions of this period for Ukrainian citizens. Inspired by a line from Taras Shevchenko’s poem “Days are passing, nights are passing” which quotes, “Let me not fall asleep while walking.” The project title was altered to read “us” instead of “me” to embody the people of Ukraine as a whole.
With a background in engineering, Denil’s photographic interest started in 2014 by seeing Jacob Riis’s “How the Other Half Lives.” Fascinated by the excessive presence of light, the striking compositions and shadows encapsulating daily life in combination with the strategical use of the medium, challenged David to explore the contemporary subject matter.
Within his first project “Let Us Not Fall Asleep While Walking,” Denil started to translate the psychological dimensions of Ukraine as a collision between past, present, and future. Mentored by the Magnum photographer Carl De Keyzer, he chose not to show the war in the east, but to focus on the aspects of life presented to him in the capital Kiev. By his active presence, his work functions as an extension on the early 20th-century documentary approach and tends to reveal universal questions rather than to depict actual proof of the fact.
Coup de coeur of the Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation.
Exhibition presented in the program “Hey! What’s goin on? at the Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation, an associate program of the Rencontres d’Arles.
Commissaires : Nicolas HAVETTE & Madj
Consultant : Adam WHITE
Partenaires : Universal Music Group, ChromaLuxe
Hey! What’s Going On?
du 1er juillet au 22 septembre 2019
Fondation Manuel Rivera-Ortiz
18 rue de la Calade, Arles