From the perspective of LA-based photographer, Roman Koval, photography does not intrinsically provide a narrative. For Koval, “the notion of narrative begins ex post facto—when the work enters any sort of public space, whether it’s a gallery, a book, or an online platform. The moment it crosses that threshold of post-authorship, it can take on any number of narratives that were originally unintended.” Koval’s photos carry a transit tone that is not unlike reading an in media res work. Koval, highly aware of his work’s connotation with ephemerality and likeness to narratives, strays from enforcing any personal chronicles or labels, such as documentation, upon his work. His vibrant photography brings weight to the materiality of the usual and breathes cinematic life into it.
Koval’s work, as a whole, presents itself as a subtle anaphora—a repetition of lively colors, cheeky angles, and an instinctual fascination of the surrounding environment in each of his photos. He acknowledges Henry Wessel as an influence for his work: “ [Wessel’s] approach to the medium was to photograph quickly, knowing that what you see could disappear and dissipate before you can even process that change in the physical world. Photographing can be an emotional experience for me—there are times when something triggers me and I feel guilty if I don’t capture it which is why the iPhone became so important to me in the last few years.”
Born in 1991 in Bogorodchany, Ukraine, Roman Koval moved to the United States during his adolescent years. He studies photography at the San Francisco Art Institute, having developed an interested in photography after receiving his first camera at age 14. Of his early interest in photography Koval had to say, “The initial draw was a fascination with the “otherness” of the new landscape. It felt like an impulse to document everything in order to make sense of it in my head. That impulse stays with me to this day, but I’m more discriminatory in what I photograph now because I’ve recognized what “types” of images and physical world situations I’m attracted to.”
Koval expects to have new material when he returns to Ukraine, presented in either a short film, photo essay, or photo book format. As for his own commentary on his work, “My mom recently sent me a copy of the first photograph I ever took when I was 5. It’s of my parents at the Moscow Zoo and I think it explains every photographic decision I’ve made since then. I can’t explain why.”
Images courtesy of Roman Koval