Polina Polikarpova: Pretty ghetto

My city loves to sleep. When it wakes, it resumes its rough everyday rhythm and doesn’t care about joy. Superficiality dominates everything related to true beauty. So I created my own city on the edge of the real city, taking as my point of view all the best I could snap, anything that could help the real city find harmony. I called it Pretty Ghetto.

In my city, living blocks became a big and depressing organism that has grown for several generations. But their residents are younger in soul and body and stay children in their hearts forever. They read glossy magazines in childhood and imagine themselves their main images. Sometimes they want to be the object of desire, but they are not as available as it seems. Their weakness is their bright and extravagant taste for clothes and cheerful, almost useless pastime. They are like chameleons colored to match the native landscape, praising themselves for being at one with it. Animals are their faithful companions. Whether it’s a toy, sculpture, drawing or a live puppy, they share with them the joy of life. Although Pretty Ghetto is a beautiful utopia, everyone from the real city will be able to go there. And then go and come back again, the next time they’re frustrated by the greyness of life or the dullness of shattered dreams.

Photo: BridA & Matej Vidmar

Polina Polikarpova

Polina Polikarpova, born in 1992, in Kharkiv, Ukraine. BA of history of arts in KSADA (Kharkiv state academy of design and arts). At present she is an independent photographer based in Kyiv and remotely as a costume designer and stylist for Kharkiv-based theater “Neft“.

Polina Polikarpova represents Ukrainian New Sincerity. Influenced by her father– a photographer – and mother – a stylist – Polina analyses her life experience through photography by creating visual narratives, which might look plotless at first glance.

Being both a photographer and a stylist, Polikarpova constructed scenes and characters in her hometown — Kharkiv. While living in Kharkiv she was focused on the local provincial poetics and her place in it. Appearance and plastics of her characters are infantile, erotic and extravagant, starting from objective women’s sexuality and overing total erasing of the gender.

Compositions created “here and now” are also distinctive in Polikarpova’s style; instead of the artificial environment of studio, she prefers interiors of the actual living spaces and city landscapes. The author creates her own unique visual vocabulary by playing with contemporary fashion photography tricks and clichés and ignoring the viewer’s expectations. All author’s photographs are autobiographical in a way. Polikarpova herself prefers to “hold the mirror” instead of being constantly reflected in it.

She is based in Kyiv from 2019 but her practice remains focused between two cities – Kharkiv and Kyiv, where she finds inspiration and looks for similarities between her hometown and the country’s capital. Polikarpova performs the role of a flaneur and uses this as a method of searching for new locations, thus striking and admiring the local audience. Pursuing a discreet review of the depersonalized sites at different times of the year and weather conditions, whether it be a city or a village, the author creates a series of silent, sometimes mystical and surrealistic landscapes.