Gorsad is a three-piece art collective from Kiev photographing the spaces of alternative youth culture where society has not yet imposed its clichés. They have their own view of youth, with work that captures the embodiment of deeper inner freedom through self-sufficient people who are trying to live by their own rules. Their photographs delve into the period where a person begins to ‘learn themselves’ alongside the authority and pressures placed on them from ‘their adult generation’. Below they share their series ‘Heaven in hell’ and discuss their connection, Ukraine and Soviet society, youth and inspirations.
Gorsad is an art collective from Kiev, Ukraine made up of the three of you: Victor, Julian and Maria. You met while studying together and have said that ‘we then realized God had commanded us to be united’. What made you feel that way?
We felt at some intuitive level that we had to unite to create a common project, but not one of us understood what it would be and what would pour out until after.
What beliefs do you think the three of you share that draw you together? How would you describe your conjoined tastes and preferences?
First of all, we are united by common friendship, and then everything else... We put our tastes and preferences into what we do, and our creativity already speaks for itself.
The name Gosad translated means ‘urban garden’ and, in Odessa, there is a place called City Garden, which is why you chose the name. What’s your connection to City Garden?
We prefer to keep it a secret, but we promise that we will tell it once!
For people who haven’t been to Kiev before, how would you describe it?
Kiev is a city with a unique atmosphere and people. There is a special combination of Ukrainian baroque, Soviet architecture, kitsch and something that very hard to understand… Maybe it’s beyond words - you need to come and watch.
How do you think creating in a Soviet society and culture impacts your work? I read that it has almost no impact on your work because you try to disengage from the political process, but do you think the sadness you’ve said you experience from it is a part of your work at all?
There are a lot of politics in our country, and we try to abstract from this. In fact, we still feel the Soviet echo in almost all spheres of our life as a way of thinking for people - there is some kind of limitation everywhere. An older generation often recalls the Soviet past with admiration and looks back, and the young people often look ahead, but don’t understand what to do in the future. And this all subconsciously influences our creativity.
Is there anything you wish mainstream media captured or that was more widespread and known about the nuances of Ukraine?
In our country there are a lot of very talented people who are in the shadow - it needs to be shown.
What draws you to youth culture? You’ve said before that it comes from an intuitive level and doesn’t have much deeper logic, but why do think you focus on the young people of Kiev specifically?
In general, in the youth culture and not only in Kiev, we are attracted by a certain level of freedom. We are interested in the moments where society has not yet imposed its clichés. And the youth of Kiev is close to us most of all because we live here.
A lot of artists and magazines works revolve around youth culture. In some senses, it can start to feel very contrived and seem to only feature edgier, ‘street style’ models. How do you stay true to your own style and share a different take or unique voice within such an influx of that type of photography being created surrounding youth?
We have shaped our own view of the youth, and we try to stick to it, and not to be scattered on something secondary.
How do you think adolescence in Kiev differs from adolescence in other places? Is your work more focused on growing up Kiev specifically, or is it a wider take on youth in general?
We do not know - perhaps the main difference is mentality. During this period, we are interested in local people, but in the context of world culture.
What types of people or things make each of you stop and take a photograph?
We are interested in self-sufficient people who try to live by their own rules.
How do you stay youthful in yourselves?
We just have no other choice!
Tell me more about the selection of photos you shared. Normally the saying is ‘Heaven and Hell’, but you’ve called the series in ‘Heaven in hell’.
The name Heaven in hell is something like a leitmotif in order to create a mood.
In a previous interview I saw you said your work starts dialogue with those who are ‘difficult to get in touch with in everyday life’. Can you elaborate on what you meant by that?
We are here talking about the fact that we find a common language with those with whom it is difficult to do.
I also saw you described your photo book Birds & Bees as ‘something between ‘ban’ and ‘permission’;. What do you mean by ‘ban’ and ‘permission’? How does this idea play into all your work?
In his youth, a person begins to learn himself. He often encounters a ban from the adult generation, and we often touch upon such moments in our works.
Tell me about the sexually charged nature in a lot of your photos. Is this intentional, or just an inherent part of exploring the genuineness of youth culture?
Yes, this is one of the main themes that we touch on in our work because it is often in this that the true desires of a person manifest themselves.
interview AUDRY HIAOUI
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