The Guestbook: our interview with Viacheslav Poliakov

Viacheslav Poliakov is one of the most original Ukrainian photographers in circulation, about which we have previously spoken here. His aesthetics are of great visual impact, breaking down barriers and transforming what seems worthless into something new and unexpectedly beautiful. The artist recently published the book Lviv-God’s WIll, which you can buy here.

Us at Collater.al have asked Viacheslav a few questions:

How did you start photographing, do you have a memory?

I had some cameras since childhood, used them in a way people normally use for family and travels. Nothing special. And I’ve been doing visual things same as long, including art school, university, working as graphic designer.

First time I consciously left home with a camera to do photography was during my rehabilitation period after surgery. That was 2011. I had to walk a lot and had nothing to do. As well as had no friends or money after all these health problems. The camera was a tool to meet new people and to find interest in boring districts of soviet blocks I lived in. It’s still is just a tool to look around with more attention. And share.

Your style is really original, what do you draw inspiration from?

I just go for a walk. That’s what I like about photography, that’s why I use it over drawing or CG (which I was doing a lot), it gives me something which never was in my head, some external experience, some learning, joyof discovery. Ukraine is a crazy interesting place to live in today. It’s never boring.

Travel, art exhibitions, books, films, I learn from other people, for example, I recommend the works by Elena Subach.

Is there a particular reason why you selected these photographs?

These pictures are parts of the projects. And they’ve come through huge conscious selection and years of thinking and trying. Each of them plays, it’s part in a project. But selection for the publication is quite emotional and based on current mood only. 

Is there a photograph you feel more attached to? If so, why?


This picture captures a part of the fence in a kindergarten in Kherson, my hometown. Like all other works in a project, it has a story behind. Please take a look to how many layers were added to finally close the hole and stop children from running away “to the wild”.

The object of this photo has:

  • A huge hole in a fence, which obviously were not planned to be there.
  • A moral attempt to do a good thing and fix the problem.
  • A random visuality that came to live than people are creating something thinking only about the function and meaning, but not about the form.
  • And, finally, my invasion with framing, flash, cutting of the background and making it part of the bigger narrative.

This picture speaks about the project probably as much as other pictures, but I’m really happy with the visual language I achieved with it.

How has your culture influenced your art?

I’m part of my culture, what else can I add? I grew up in post-soviet Kherson, learned from the local art scene, small, but yet strong and unique: Stas Volyazlovskiy, Slava Mashnitskiy, Max Afanasiev, Semen Khramtsov. And now, quite mature already, I’ve got this ability to travel the world and compare it to my cultural bubble. Which was extremely isolated even 10 years ago. And still is a lot.

Follow Viacheslav’s take over on @Collater.al Instagram profile!

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