Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ukrainian Root Cellar Photography Series

during the ten years i’ve worked processing and printing black and white photography, first in America then in Sicilia, I sought high quality equipment and a darkroom well suited for printing ‘professional level’ photographs. when, five years ago, I abandoned my comfortable American life to follow my dream of living abroad, my point of view began to change. this transition was a process of asking myself, ‘What can I do without?’ I began enjoying a sense of ‘lightness’ in being freed of many possessions. after making the move to Sicilia the question became, ‘How might I maximize the use of a thing rather than buying a new one?’ by example, I made the trip from Siracusa to Софіївка (Sofìevka), Ukraine on a vintage ‘70’s bicycle salvaged from the trash and I constructed travel bags from a piece of luggage given to me by my mother in 1969 together with two suitcases destined for the trash. I find this practice expresses my creativity and results in more self-satisfaction than does going to the mall to buy new stuff.

following this philosophy, I printed the photographs for my recent Ukrainian exhibit on photography paper which expired in the ‘80’s, with a poorly equipped, discarded enlarger, in a damp root cellar where dust and pieces of dirt fall continually – all a nightmare for a photographer. instead of concerning myself with the problems I embraced the limitations with a ‘lets see what happens’ attitude. the result wasn’t a big surprise – prints with little contrast, irregular consistency and filled with dust spots. rather than lamenting the ‘non-professional quality’ of the prints, I find pleasure in having done an unique work (copies of the prints with the same imperfections would not be possible), using obsolete equipment and materials (thus considered useless), in an environment poorly suited as a darkroom. these photographs look as though they might have been stored for fifty years (behind the beets and potatoes), in that same Ukrainian root cellar. however, there’s a certain fascination within these imperfections and through the imperfections one discerns the true spirit of each image. might we learn to view not only our material surroundings from this vantage point but even ourselves and one another? consumerism and the advertising industry insist that we cut out the blemishes and throw away the old, yet in doing so we loose characteristics that hold individuality and charm in our lives. 

these unique ‘Ukrainian Root Cellar’ prints are now on sale and 100% of the purchase price will go to the continuation of our bicycle voyage – first to Ясная Поляна / Yasnaya Polyana, the home of Lev Tolstoy near Tula, Russian, followed by the big jump to North America where we plan to offer a series of workshops and presentations of our philosophy put to practice.

available are sixteen prints (see numbers 1 - 16), in 20cm X 30cm format on fiber base silver gelatin paper (which was made in Ukraine in 1984). each print is signed and titled on the reverse side. they are priced at 75 euros each plus shipping. also available are thirty-eight prints (numbers 17 - 54), in 16cm X 24cm format. they are printed on a light-weight Ukrainian resin coated paper and priced at 30 euros each plus shipping.

to place an order please email me ( indicating  the desired print/s, your name, mailing address and skype contact (if available). I will return an email confirming the total charge with shipping and the procedure for transfer of funds.

Valentina and I are very grateful for the spiritual and financial support you’ve given us during the months on the road and your continued support as we pause for the Ukrainian winter in preparation for another phase of the voyage.

in peace,

Liam and Valentina

p.s. my second grandchild, ‘Ben’ Decker is to be born in February. yet another motivation for bringing the show to America as soon as possible!

1 comment:

  1. It will take me awhile to decide which to purchase!! I love so many of them. Glad you mentioned on facebook to find this description on the second page. I had missed it the first time. Love, Patricia