Book Review: EROTIC
The first Ukraine’s art book with erotic photos, “Ukrainian Erotic Photography,” includes over 100 pictures by 21 Ukrainian photographers. A woman holding a corncob in her mouth while sitting on her knees in a cornfield, a man hugging a birch tree, another woman lying in a bathtub — all of them naked — are only some of the pictures found in the first Ukrainian erotic photography art book.
“Ukrainian Erotic Photography” was released by Osnovy publishing house. The English-language book contains over 100 pictures by 21 Ukrainian photographers.
Combining works of both young and well-known artists, the book looks at the development of erotic photography in Ukraine since its independence in 1991, according to Osnovy.
The introduction reads that the book is “dedicated to the representation of a human body in contemporary Ukrainian photography.”
It includes the works by well-known Ukrainian photographers like Mykola Trokh, Yevgeniy Pavlov, Roman Piatkovka, Glib Vysheslavskyi, as well as beginners Yaroslav Solop, Sergey Melnitchenko, Ihor Chekachkov.
Svitlana Libet, an editor at Osnovy publishing house, believes that erotic photography will always be timely due to the new generations of artists.
“Such masters as Yevheniy Pavlov, Mykola Trokh, Roman Piatkovka have already become a part of the history of Ukrainian photography. But while working with young artists we realized that there are so many cool modern erotic photos,” she said.
The 191-page edition is divided into chapters by an author. It contains photo series, collages and standalone photos made in different techniques and styles. There are small bios of the authors, but photos only have titles and no descriptions.
The cover of the book was criticized on social media in Ukraine for allegedly objectifying women. It features a naked woman with a collar on her neck, her legs pulled up and partly covering her face. Her open red lips stand for “o” in “erotic” in the book’s title.
Libet says that their editorial team wouldn’t have approved the cover if they thought it objectified women.
“We respect both women and men, whose pictures are also in the book. Gender equality is one of the topics that we focus on at our publishing house,” she said.
Pavlo Gudimov, the founder of Ya Gallery art center and Artbook publishing house, says that he would definitely recommend the book.
“It’s a good product built on various photographs of different generations and different schools,” he said.
Although “Ukrainian Erotic Photography” was published as a limited edition with only 1,000 copies, Gudimov says that at the recent Lviv Book Fair it attracted a lot of attention.
“Hundreds of people looked through it from beginning to the end,” he said.
Aleksandr Liapin, a Ukrainian photographer and photo critic, says that although the cover sets up the expectation for rather radical pictures, the book doesn’t correspond to it.
“The book doesn’t cover the waterfront. It touches some traditions modestly and superficially. There is more radical erotic photography, more illustrative and rich,” he said.
Nevertheless, Liapin says that it’s great that such book has been published.
In the Soviet Union times Ukrainian photography couldn’t develop because of censorship and, as a result, it now lags behind the full-blown photography tradition of the world, Liapin said.
However, today Ukrainian photography is catching up and the release of the first erotic photography book is a good sign.
The photographer added that eroticism is the essence of human life and in some way the sense of living.
“No eroticism — no life,” Liapin said.
Where to buy “Ukrainian Erotic Photography” (Hr 600):
Osnovy Publishing (7 Heorhiivskyi Lane)
My Bookshelf bookstore (7 Pushkinska St.)