July 14, 2011

Photography is an amorphous medium. Some of the most powerful yet beautiful images come from no attempt to produce beauty. Steve Curry was a war photographer when he took his famous picture of Sharbat Gula, the 12 year old Afghan girl. Yet this is one of the most amazing and lovely photographs.

Sasha Maslov has accomplished something similar in his study of a Ukrainian mining town. Maslov was born in the Ukraine, although he currently lives in Brooklyn, and a strong feeling for the region.

You have to respect him; he moved to this Ukrainian town for several weeks with the intent of documenting the lives of this community on the periphery. In so doing, he obviously won the liking and esteem of the miners and their families. They opened their world to him. You’ll see that there are no children and it seems that everyone who can simply leaves.

He has created an excellent documentary record of the townspeople. It is a reminder that the lives of the working class in the former Soviet Union are much like the lives of the working class in the US.

These miners’ lives are dark and grim and they hold out no hope of bettering themselves. You see this in Maslov’s photography. The images are dark with a grainy feeling that isn’t really there. He has treated the people and places with sensitivity. In so doing, he’s given us a beautifully compelling body of work and proven once again that visual reporting can be more alive and more memorable than work created solely to be art.

This excellent presentation of Maslov’s work will be at Sputnik Gallery through September 3.

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