"I was born in Zaporizhzhya, got a master's degree in Ukrainian philology, and went to conquer the world. It would be great to do this faster, of course, because modern Zaporizhzhya is a swamp. Although I still love it, especially Khortytsia. I moved to Minsk, where I lived for a very odd 2.5 years. I realized that I could not sit in one place, and in 2017 I moved to Kyiv.
After Minsk, where they more or less care for heritage, have perfect roads, develop infrastructure and take care of the comfort of citizens, the neglect of Kyiv shocked me. I became interested in urban planning and politics to understand how we found ourselves in this plastic world. The culmination of my shock was the story with "Plate" on Lybidska. I couldn't believe that someone could demolish a unique building, and I went to take pictures to save the building, at least in the photos. Thus, my project Ukrainian Modernism was born near "Plate." I realized that with such arbitrariness of developers and chaotic "decommunization," when people thoughtlessly destroy everything Soviet (although the law on decommunization says that art objects are not subject to the law, but we people do not like to delve into the essence), we would soon lose the legacy of the second half of the twentieth century. Plus, at that time, I had been photographing and interested in architecture for four years, and this project helped me develop in both areas.
Why modernism? First, it's my favorite style of architecture. Secondly, it is not just a style but also a progressive philosophy, which is very close to me.
Modernism was imbued with a thirst for experimentation and shaping.
Modernism is the boldest architecture style, which finally broke completely with classicism and abandoned decorativeness. It also became the first international style - as if the whole world was united for progress.
After the project started, I sometimes woke up at six in the morning and went to work to take pictures of objects. Then I went to work in the office, and in the evenings took photos again. It was like the beginning of a passionate relationship where you couldn't live without each other for the first few weeks.
I spend all my free time running the community. It only takes 2-3 hours to prepare one publication, let alone field research: I try to travel regularly in Ukraine, searching for new objects.
I like to shoot on sunny days. Although modernist buildings look spectacular in the gloomy weather, this is a jaded aesthetic. I love color instead. It is a pity that the dogs do not see the color. I sympathize with them. Plus, I want to convey the optimism of the '60s and highlight the desire of the architects and urban planners of the time to create better living conditions.
Do I love Kyiv? I don’t know. I am tired of its hostility: cars everywhere, broken sidewalks, felled trees, stalls, king-balconies, streets full of cigarette smoke.
For me, the only islands of peace are my favorite coffee shop near the Zhovten cinema and, more recently, the Flowers of Ukraine. Probably I do not have a favorite place.
I used to really like the Motherland monument complex. I loved to sit on its slopes. But recently, Klytschko planted the highest flag in the country there and completely destroyed the landscape design of the complex verified by dozens of specialists. But now we are along with North Korea, Turkmenistan, Belarus, and other dictatorial countries on the list of the highest flags.
I want to love Kyiv, but it is challenging to do it when it's destroyed in front of your eyes and for your own money. I pay taxes every month, and they go to pruning trees, shifting tiles, bridges for Klytschko's self-publicity, and cheap repairs that erase the Kyiv face. Why remove historic lanterns and replace them with cheap Chinese ones?
And in general, it is difficult to sleep peacefully when the city allocates almost two billion hryvnias for the reconstruction of the zoo (for what?!). It destroys the unique entrance group, while the whole Kyiv city is regularly left without water due to worn pipes. Historic buildings crumble, and 90% of city fountains last worked in the 90s.
What keeps me in Ukraine? Probably the Ukrainian Modernism project. I have not shown all the modernism on my excursions. I have not visited all the cities. I have not photographed all the objects.
And the project has already become something more than just a blog with photos. Thanks to the project, every person who has become more attentive to their environment is a victory for me. I believe that a person who has become alert to architecture will be attentive to ecology and human rights. And I hope that in the next convocations of the Kyiv City and Verkhovna Rada, deputies will be competent and not indifferent leaders, not businessmen and politicians-adapters.
What are my dreams? Travel around Latin America. I adore the local culture, nature, folklore, and people - open, warm, alive, sincere, emotional (just like me, lol). They also have nice modernism. I have recently returned from Mexico, and it seems I've left my heart there.
Dmytro Solovyov, author of the project Ukrainian Modernism