MAKSYM KOZLOV MY BEAUTIFUL TOMORROW
Maksym Kozlov's subjects are now able to see themselves in their deeply forgotten childhoods, during the times of irregularly changing paradigms, such as the ones from the late 1990s and early 2000s; when the last fragments of the Soviet Empire were barely visible, as they started to increasingly transition toward something else.
From Camera Lucida we know that Roland Barthes was opposed to non-realistic approaches in photography. For Barthes, a camera represents an instrument of evidence, while photography—as a medium—has the capacity to assert the overwhelming truth that "the thing has been there: this was a reality which once existed, though it is а reality one can no longer touch." In this particular quotation, Barthes becomes strikingly self-referential, as he is alluding to his own attempt at finding the image of his already dead mother in photographs. Certainly, this odd kind of 'nostalgia' gave him the possibility to acknowledge the border between truth and lie, between reality and deception, which exists so sharply in mediated images.
In contrast to Barthes, the subjects from Maksym Kozlov's series 'My Beautiful Tomorrow' do not strive to discern the bygone relatives; in these old photographs, they can see themselves in their deeply forgotten childhoods, during the times of irregularly changing paradigms, such as the ones from the late 1990s and early 2000s; when the last fragments of the Soviet Empire were barely visible, as they started to increasingly transition toward something else. The series of photographs introduces the viewer to an era of cramped coexistence between the parents' clear vision of happiness and success—an idealised image grabbed from the withdrawing century—and the new imported values and technologies—which gave birth to a widespread phenomenon: idealised photographic services directed at school or kindergarten pupils. The first users of such early versions of Photoshop soon created new "advanced" characters and immediately occupied this niche market of children photography.
Like most things happening in the late 1990s Ukraine, the service quickly expanded and a "photo mafia" spontaneously appeared in the field. One of the companies providing photo services to kindergartens and primary schools gained monopoly: the gang leaders were paying bribes up to 30% to the principles in order to organise photo sessions, which resulted in a successful business model.
Many years passed by and each one of those young kids is now somebody they never meant to be when the portraits were taken. The series puts both its subjects and its viewers face to face with the rite of passage; it actualises the notion of a long past reality that we are unable to interact with any longer; it serves as a vehicle for the reconstruction of an innocent child's memory that is soon to be destroyed under the pressure of the newly imposed rules of the game.