These photos and the photo-montage were created during the periods I was instructing in Kyiv, Ukraine funded by Fulbright Scholar’s Teaching Grants; 2002-3, 2003-4, and 2011-12.
1.) Kaufmann-01, ‘Two Sisters, May Day’, Kyiv, Ukraine, 2013. Every year on May 9, ‘Victory Day’ is celebrated in Ukraine by remembering the veterans who gave their life during WWII. These two sisters brought a large portrait of their father to the parade, managing this by using a technique they had perfected over the years.
2.) Kaufmann-02, ‘Cossacks on Maidan’, 2013. I was living in Kyiv before and after the EuroMaidan revolution of Oct. 2013-April 2014. Irrespective of what you might read, it was a genuine grass-roots uprising against Russia’s treatment of Ukraine as a vassal state. In 2013 Ukrainians knew that their economic future was with Western Europe and the EU. Russia sabotaged an agreement Ukraine was to make with the EU and the ‘Revolution of Dignity’ began. From October to December the mood was almost festive with people coming from all over the country and setting up a small city with soup kitchen and tents representing all the major regions. In January and February the mood changed, and violent confrontations began. In February 100+ protestors were shot by government snipers and the president Yanukovych fled the country.
3.) Kaufmann-03, ‘Pensioner’, Minsk, Belarus, 2004. In 2004 I traveled to Minsk, Belarus to give a workshop on web design for IREX. While there I visited the national museum and observed this poignant moment when a visiting pensioner meditated over a painting of someone struggling with conditions that he was very familiar with.
4.) Kaufmann-04, ‘Putti in the Darnytsa Rinack’ Kyiv, 2004. While teaching in Kyiv 2003-4 I discovered that every last Saturday a special market (rinack) was held for out-of-town villagers to bring in items to sell. These included, complete interiors of old churches, and folk tradition textiles, furniture, and icons. This photo shows two happy ‘putti’ greeting each other. These sculptures, along with hundreds of icons, were laid on the ground to display to possible customers.
5.) Kaufmann-05, ‘‘Listen Closely’, photomontage reverse-printed on acrylic, 2013. In 2013 I exhibited a combination of photomontages and documentary photos I’d taken while living in Bahrain. The exhibit was titled ‘Expressions of Belief’. My photomontage ‘icons’ represented a Christian worldview with a wall opposite displaying documentary photos of the Day of Ashura. This is the annual memorial parade of the Shia Muslims who remember the death of Hussain, cousin to Mohammad. My three photomontages combined the icon tradition of the Eastern church and the graphic style of Soviet Agit-prop propaganda posters. Listen closely includes a text reference to the Bible passage in I Kings 19:11-12 when God visits Elijah with a very still, small, voice. So listen very closely if you choose to hear.