Ania Ready, Brave New World, 2020.

12 Contemporary Photographers Rethinking Eastern Europe. Explore their work.

In the ever-evolving landscape of photography, contemporary visual artists are engaging in redefining the term “Eastern Europe.” This region, often reduced to a homogeneous mass by English-speaking media, is being reimagined through the lenses of artists who seek to challenge stereotypes and present nuanced narratives. 

With Eastern European roots, or with direct lived experience of migration, these photographers possess an awareness of their historical legacy, intricately interwoven with the narratives and emotions inherited from their parents’ and grandparents’ generation. Their work reflects a deep-seated understanding of the past, blending tradition with modernity to illuminate their evolving contemporary reality. This nuanced perspective offers multifaceted explorations of identity, memory, and the complex socio-political tapestry of their region. 

Lina Ivanova

Lina is a London-based artist from Bulgaria. Leaning into intuition, chance and experience, her practice is led by process, material and experimentation. Negotiating the concept of place, Lina creates installations using found and archival material, photography and cement casts. Lina is one of the founders of Revolv Collective, an artist-run organisation based in the UK that promotes the practice, teaching and dissemination of expanded photography. 

Erika Nina Suárez

Erika Nina Suárez is a documentary and portrait photographer currently based between Hungary and Texas. Suárez spent much of her childhood on her family’s ancestral farm in Hosszúhetény, Hungary, before relocating with her family to South Florida. In addition to undertaking photographic commissions, she is currently completing a long-term project that focuses on traditional and non-traditional farming practices within rural individual communities in Europe and the US, including her family in Hungary.

Zula Rabikowska

Zula Rabikowska is a Polish queer visual artist based in London.  Zula was born in Poland and grew up in the UK and her documentary practice is influenced by her own experience of migration. Zula draws a lot of her creative inspiration from her upbringing and heritage and explores themes of displacement, gender identity and LGBTQI+ communities, and her photographs seek to offer a space for conversation and community building.

Hanna-Katrina Jędrosz

Hanna-Katrina Jędrosz is a photographer, picture editor and lecturer from London with a Polish and British background. Over the last decade, she has worked extensively across the European continent, photographing work about the environment, people and nationhood, post-conflict and borderlands, and the connection between people and place through the environment. Her practice is focused primarily on documentary and portraiture, with more recent explorations in alternative processes and community group collaborations.

Vera Hadzhiyska

Vera Hadzhiyska is a Bulgarian multi-disciplinary Artist, Curator and Photography Lecturer based in Portsmouth, England. Her practice is informed by the study of migration, cultural and national identity, history and collective memory. Her work begins autobiographically, tracing family narratives and shared traumas. Through the use of photography, archival documents, audio and video installations Vera examines historical and political events in Bulgaria and Eastern Europe, and their impact on people’s lives and identity.

Ania Ready

Ania Ready is a Polish-British photographic artist based near Oxford, UK. She works with photography, archives, and texts. In her work, she explores the human psyche, and how it can be affected by outside forces: societal, medical and political ones. Ania is interested in what it means to have agency in how we look and respond to the world. She has a special interest in the topic of femininity and madness. 

Katie McCraw

Katie McCraw is a visual artist, photo editor and archivist. She is originally from Scotland but has spent 11 years living in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Katie’s work explores the multiple identities that people hold, questioning Western concepts of memory and dominant narratives of history. Her ambition is for her images to help people feel less alone and to recognise that we are all partakers in the madness and confusion of this world.  Her practice combines alternative photographic methods and text with documentary methods. 

Eve Gill

Eve Gil is a Polish-Welsh artist and designer, working primarily within sustainable fashion. She is often inspired by Polish traditional dress, particularly from her region of Krakow, and using this inspiration to create new and modern designs. She creates the majority of her pieces using upcycled and recycled materials often sourced from Poland, patchworked, embroidered and collaged together to form something new; creating a final piece with both a history and a future. 

Ioana Marinca

Ioana Marinca is a documentary and portrait photographer born in a small mining town in northern Transilvania (Romania). Currently based in East London, her work questions what attributes make a place welcoming, and what it means to belong. Iona’s work investigates personal and social themes through intimate storytelling and visual documentation. She examines the impact of chronic medical conditions on women’s lives and investigates the complex socio-economic landscapes of urban areas, portraying their history and current dynamics through portraits and narratives.

Paulina Korobkiewicz

Paulina is a London-based Polish photographer and visual artist. Her work explores themes of home, belonging, the trauma of post-communist states, and the politics of identity, drawing from her own experience of migration. She focuses on the impact of the transition from socialism to capitalism on contemporary spaces. Paulina documents the changing landscape of her hometown and region as well as that of her current residence in the UK. Her practice involves community-based research, conducting workshops, and mentoring. In addition to developing long-form personal projects, Paulina continues to undertake commissions and residencies.

Grupa Łono

Grupa Łono is a Polish collective founded by artists Marcelina Amelia and Marta Borkowska. Motivated by a desire to create a space for free expression and compassion in a time when women’s bodily autonomy is under threat, they established this art incubator. The collective focuses on visual arts and social activities, exploring themes like the female body, emotional blockages, and our connection to nature and each other. They employ empathy, build lasting bonds, and organise exhibitions and meetings to foster learning and support. Their works span various media, including photography, video, sound, painting, and performance.  

Laura Bivolaru

Laura Bivolaru is a visual artist, writer and curator living in London, UK. Through photographs, writing, and moving image, Bivolaru tries to undo the knots of history that shape both national discourse and individual life in Romania. 

Some of these artists exhibited their work at “Rethinking Eastern Europe,” a group exhibition curated by Zula Rabikowska. The show brought together 18 artists from Poland, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Germany, Denmark, the UK, and Ukraine for an evening of film screenings, and discussions at the Photo Book Cafe on Tuesday, 21st May. The event aimed to explore and challenge perceptions of Eastern Europe through a diverse range of artistic perspectives.

Written by Zula Rabikowska and Paulina Korobkiewicz

Rethinking Eastern Europe Arles

Fri, 5 Jul 2024 15:00 – 20:00 CEST

Place du Forum: Place du Forum 13200 Arles France


About Zula

Zula Rabikowska is a London-based Polish queer visual artist. Amongst others, Zula is a recipient of the British Centre for British Photography, Mead Fellowship, and Getty Images Award and her work has been published and exhibited internationally, including; the Guardian, the BJP, Times and the BBC. Zula also works as a writer and a photography lecturer at Kingston University in London. Zula’s work has been exhibited and published internationally including; the BBC, the Guardian, BJP, the Times, Dazed, and Rolling Stone Magazine.

About Paulina

Paulina Korobkiewicz is a freelance photographer and visual artist living and working in London. She uses photobook and zine-making as a part of her process, and has participated in several group and solo exhibitions internationally. Her work has been featured in a variety of publications, such as Hapax Magazine, Kajet Journal, Contemporary Lynx, Photomonitor, the BJP, and Creative Review. Paulina is a winner of a Camberwell Book Prize, has been shortlisted and nominated for awards including BarTur Photobook Award, Magnum Graduate Photographers Award and Prix Pictet.

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