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The ‘Black and White’ of Coastal Ukraine and Inner-City Chicago

July 29th, 2013 No Comments

The ‘Black Sea’ of Ukraine

If you like no-holds-barred documenting of grey city zones and urban decay, Rafal Milach’s Black Sea of Concrete may appeal to you.  This play on words focusses on the ugly ‘sea’ of ‘concrete’ along Ukraine’s Black Sea coastline.  The photographer himself sees his work as “post-Soviet nostalgia,” as he puts it in a story on BJP.  

Check out his bleak vision of a dock – something from a dystopic Sci-Fi film?  This image embodies the title, ‘Black Sea of Concrete’, doesn’t it?  Now this image of wreck, rocks and grey sea does look like it’s straight out of that endtimes Hollywood epic, Waterworld.  

As for that ‘post-Soviet nostalgia,’ could anything embody that aspect better than a stylized ‘concrete’ hammer and sickle in an umkempt ‘sea’ of weeds and paving slabs? 

If, by now, you’re yearning for some colour, here’s just about the only outdoor splash of it in this mini-gallery; though even this image conveys decay and bleakness.

If telling it like it is in ’50 Shades of Grey’ all the way through to ‘black’ appeals to you, you may wish to get Milach’s photo book.

John ‘White’ of Chicago

Nearly two months back we had blogged about the Chicago Sun-Times’s infamous retrenchment of its entire photographic corps.  That corps counted among its assets a Pulitzer Prize winner, John H. White.  Photography Blog has run a story mentioning that White’s era-defining photographs of Chicago’s South Side will open in a London gallery a week from today.

These photographs are truly evocative, capturing the ethos and spirit of a particular community in a particular time.

Here is a startling photo of a drab residential block in front of which stands a young couple – who have evidently been thrown out of their home.  A less startling and more gentle, though equally race-tinged, photograph of black women (‘missionaries’ according to the caption) in white boarding a bus harks one back to the 1960s as it carries a whiff of segregation.

The year 1970 was near or around the height of the ‘Black Power’ Movement.  A photograph of a ‘human blockade’ of another eviction radiates that ‘Black Power’ consciousness – upraised closed-fist salutes notwithstanding.

Not all was gloom and doom; White managed to capture lightness and optimism too: witness this young girl’s dreams of someday becoming a gymnast being formulated and expressed in a very unhospitable setting for gymnastics. 

This exhibition is scheduled to run for four weeks.


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