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THE BASKETWEAVERS OF IZA
In photographs by Anna Voitenko

April 9 – September 24, 2017

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Captured in Anna Voitenko's award-winning photo-project are the inhabitants of the old village of Iza, nestled in the Carpathian Mountains of Ukraine and home to many generations of famous basketweavers. Voitenko is a Ukrainian photographer known for her projects documenting unique locations, occupations, and traditions. She is fascinated by interesting lifestyles and places and is dedicated to capturing and preserving the diversity of human customs and crafts. Her photo-story about the remarkable mono-craft Carpathian village Iza garnered a prestigious Photographer of the Year award in 2009. The exhibition The Basketweavers of Iza, comprised of 27 photographs (large prints up to 28x36 inches) and a selection of baskets made in Iza, starts Sunday, April 9. It will be on display through September 24, 2017.

Voitenko worked on the project during 2006-08 and visited the village often. Her photographs trace the rhythms of the willow wickerwork process as it defines life in the village. She follows the villagers' traditional harvesting and manufacturing methods, confirming that this ancient craft is thriving in the modern world and showing how the trade is interwoven into the very fabric of village life. Her photographs seem to ask what it is like to be born not only in a particular location but also into a profession.

Voitenko's masterful black-and-white photo series recalls the aesthetics of the Kyiv School of photography, particularly the foggy, poetic landscapes of its famous representative Oleksandr Ranchukov. Her photos capture the complex drama of stark contrasts between dark silhouettes and bright faces, between calligraphically sharp objects and the soft white smoke that envelopes them.

One of the formal organizing principles of the Iza series is the circle. This ancient symbol of eternal life wanders from photograph to photograph in the exhibition, appearing here as a willow curve there as an embrace, a car wheel, or a tire and, finally, as a basket.

The Basketweavers of Iza includes both Voitenko's photographs and actual examples of the items produced by the villagers: tableware, animal figurines, and of course the exquisitely shaped and patterned baskets for which they are known around the world.

Olena Martynyuk
Curator

When I found out about the old and large village of Iza, located on a wide plain among Carpathian ridges. I was hooked immediately. I wanted to explore this unusual village because all of Iza's residents, the local priest and policeman included, are engaged in withe wickerwork. Instead of carrots, cabbages, and potatoes, they grow willow twig on their plots of land. You cannot find any other village like this in Europe. It is the only one. Yes, wickerwork is made in many places, but not by the entire village.

Anna Voitenko
Photographer

 


 

About the Museum

The Ukrainian Museum acquires, preserves, and exhibits articles of artistic or historic significance to the rich cultural heritage of Ukrainian Americans; its collections include thousands of items of folk art, fine art, and archival material. At its founding in 1976 by the Ukrainian National Womens League of America, the Museum was hailed as one of the finest achievements of Americans of Ukrainian descent. Since then, and particularly since its move in 2005 to a new, state-of-the-art building in Manhattans vibrant East Village, it has become known as one of the most interesting and dynamic smaller museums in New York City. Each year, the Museum organizes several exhibitions, publishes bilingual (English/Ukrainian) catalogues, and presents a wide range of public and educational programs, including concerts, films, lectures, courses, workshops, and special events.

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