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7 New East Artists Worth FollowingMeet artists whose works, influenced by their post-Soviet and Eastern European experiences, present different angles of the New East.

The recent years have seen a rise in great artistic talents originating from the eastern side of the world. Below, we present seven artists whose works, influenced by their post-Soviet and Eastern European experiences, present different angles of the New East.

1. Alexey Vasilyev (Russia)

Alexey Vasilyev was born in Yakutia – the largest region of Russia, barely known to the rest of the world. In his documentary photography, Vasilyev explores the life of people in the Far North whose everyday activities navigate through a severe and contrasting climate: in summer the air warms up to 40 degrees Celsius, in winter it can drop to 60 degrees below zero.

In 2018, Vasilyev entered the school of modern photography in Saint Petersburg. He is also a member of the Russian Union of Photographers. With his photo series “Sakhawood” that tells the story of the independent movie industry in the Sakha region (Yakutia), Vasilyev was shortlisted as one of the best photographers of the New East Photo Prize 2020. His work has been published in such media outlets as The Guardian, National Geographic, The Calvert Journal, Meduza, LensCulture, The Moscow Times, and more. Most recently, one of his photographs won the World Press Photo 2021 competition.

Web: alexey-vasilyev.com Insta: @lekon_v

2. Ilir Tsouko (Albania) 

Ilir Tsouko is an Albanian documentary photographer and visual storyteller raised in Greece and currently living between Berlin and Tirana. His long-term photographic projects revolve around the perception and creation of identity with its ever-changing shapes.

In one of his projects “Future in Chernobyl”, Tsouko portrays a Ukrainian community who, as a result of the war in eastern Ukraine, is forced to leave their homes and settle around Chernobyl. A place that for a long time has stood for destruction, death, and disease may now provide a safe space for people running away from an ongoing armed conflict.

Tsouko studied photojournalism and documentary photography at Hochschule Hannover. His work has been published by notable publications such as The Guardian, Fluter, Vice, The Calvert Journal, der Freitag, Are We Europe, and more. Same as Alexey Vasilyev, Tsouko was one of the shortlisted talents of the New East Photo Prize 2020.

Web: ilirtsouko.com Insta: @ilirtsouko

3. Jan Jurczak (Poland)

Jan Jurczak is a Polish visual artist and activist. His practise is based on engaged photography, participatory activities, and social activism. Jurczak’s long term projects allow him to develop deep and meaningful relationships with his subjects.

Since 2017, he has been visiting Ukrainian communities located near the frontline in the eastern portions of the country. He co-created a support centre in Donbas, distributed humanitarian help, and conducted charity fund-risers. In 2020, Jurczak started to work with the Chechen minority in Polish Centres for Foreigners.

With his projects like “No for Plastic” and “How emotions and values relate to river stewardship in rural areas”, Jurczak has been cooperating with the Jagiellonian University, the Mayor of Krakow, the Marshal’s Office, and the National Science Centre.

Web: janjurczak.com Insta: @jan_jurczak

4. Johanna Rannula (Estonia)

Johanna Rannula is an Estonian artist whose practise circulates around the medium of documentary photography with a focus on anthropology. Rannula has graduated from the Estonian Academy of Arts and is currently working as an exhibition manager at the Tallinn City Museum.

Her most recent photographic project “Siberian White” showcases the youth, friendships, and love stories of people that were deported to Siberia. The series of Soviet deportations peaked in the late 1940’s. Around 70% of the Estonian deportees consisted of women and children under the age of sixteen. Over a quarter of those deported spent their childhood there and so developed childishly bright memories from that time.

Through collecting memories and stories told by these people, Rannula complicates the hegemonic narratives where the Soviet past is expected to be viewed exclusively in a negative manner.

Web: johanna.rannula.ee Insta: @johannarannula

5. Marta Popivoda (Belgrade)

Marta Popivoda is a filmmaker, video artist, and researcher born and raised in Belgrade – the former capital of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and today the capital city of Serbia. She is currently working between Belgrade and Berlin.

Her work explores tensions between memory and history, collective and individual bodies, as well as ideology and everyday life, with a focus on antifascist and feminist potentiality of the Yugoslav socialist project.

Popivoda’s first feature documentary “Yugoslavia, How Ideology Moved Our Collective Body”, premiered at the 63rd Berlinale and was later screened at many international film festivals. Her work was also featured in major art galleries, such as Tate Modern in London, Museum of Modern Art in New York, Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp, and both Museum of Modern Art and Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova in Ljubljana.

Her most recent documentary film “Landscapes of Resistance” tells the story of Sonja – one of the first female partisans in the 1940s Serbia that helped fight the German occupation and lead the resistance in the women’s barracks in Auschwitz after she was captured and sent there.

Web: martapopivoda.info Insta: @marta.popivoda

6. Ramin Mazur (Moldova)

Ramin Mazur was born on the left bank of the Dniester River in the Moldavian Soviet Republic, which became an unrecognised state of Transnistria after 1991.

Graduating from the Journalism Department of Moldavian State University in Chisinau, he started working with different print outlets as a photo reporter. However, the lack of understanding and appreciation for photojournalism in the local media led him to start producing independent projects and photo series.

After attending Magnum Foundation’s Human Rights and Photography Program, Mazur started telling stories of his own and the nearby countries’ political and social struggles. His ongoing photo series “Rural Carnival” – portraying mystical characters created for the Winter Carnival celebrations across rural areas in Europe – found its way onto the cover of the 4th issue of the Kajet Journal.

What’s more, Mazur’s work received various nominations and awards, such as The Innovation Award of European Press Prize, World Press Photo of the Year, Px3 LePric de la Photographie de Paris, and EyeEm Awards.

Web: raminmazur.com Insta: @raminmazur

7. Yulia Krivich (Ukraine)

Yulia Krivich is a visual artist from Ukraine that works with photography and installation. She was born in Dnipro and is currently living and working in Warsaw. She graduated from the State Academy of Civil Engineering and Architecture in Dnipro, as well as from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw.

In her works, Krivich explores issues related to identity, combining the personal with the political. Creating work in the public space allows her to open important socio-political discussion to a broader audience.

One of Krivich’s performance installations “w Ukrainie” questions the usage of the Polish phrase na Ukrainie (on Ukraine) instead of the logical w Ukrainie (in Ukraine). Her thought provoking public performance opens up a broader discussion on discrimination faced by Ukrainian people living in Poland.

Krivich is a recipient of the Gaude Polonia Scholarship Program of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage of Poland and a participant of the Plat(t)form at the Fotomuseum in Winterthur, Switzerland. What’s more, she was nominated for such awards as the PinchukArtCenter Prize for Young Artists in Ukraine and the ING Unseen Talent Award. Krivich is also one of the three creators of ZA*Zin – a work dedicated to non-Polish artists living in Poland.

Insta: @yulia_krivich

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About The Author

Patrycja
Rozwora

Artist and writer. Studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie and the Critical Studies Department at the Sandberg Institute. Her ongoing research relates the post-Soviet countries. In 2020, she launched a podcast series called ‘Kitchen Conversations.’

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