Artem Humilevskiy, Ukraine
Artem Humilevski, born 1986 in Mykolayiv, Ukraine, managed an agricultural company for many years. Later he acted as advisor for culture, education and sport in a regional council. In 2019 he began with photography in earnest, took a course at the MYPH school of Sergey Melnitchenko. For a long time he was unknown in the West. Meanwhile he has exhibited his work not just in his home country and in Poland, but also in Venice, New York, in Germany, England, Switzerland and in the Czech Republic, has been nominated for international awards and been published inside and outside the Ukraine.
What we see is a very, very heavy man. We see the strange, comical, ridiculous, puzzling, touching, bizarre, absurd, also loveable, poses he takes up. We think he knows no embarrassment. We wonder. We don’t know him. But of course, we look. And then, knowing that he has sent us his pictures from Ukraine, we begin to ask ourselves: Why does he do that? Who is he? What does he want to tell us?
What Artem Humilevski wrote in the margins of Giant has to do with the covid pandemic: He writes of a time in which not only states had closed their borders. Essentially, each individual had to cut themselves off. A neighbour had become a danger, we had to shut ourselves in. And so encountered ourselves – often more intensely than would have been good for us. We also encountered our inner void.
And this was the time when he decided to portray himself. In order to not let it turn tragic, he set it up self-ironically. At the same time, this was his way of accepting himself. In this way a diary emerged, a plea for empathy and openness.
What we celebrate here – apart from a highly original and courageous photographic work – is a refreshing end to body shaming. It is a call to meet people of any shape (you could also say skin colour, religion, origin, ethnic group) with tolerance. To not turn away if someone does not correspond to our stereotypes of normality. It is nothing less than the human right to diversity!
And if you take a closer look at Artem Humilevski, especially against the background of a criminal invasion of his country, you will recognize the seriousness in his work. It is by no means just funny. Here someone bares himself, makes himself defenceless in order to disarm. To call for peace.
His grandmother, to whom he has dedicated another of his both intellectual and simply loving art and photography projects, died in a Nazi concentration camp. His grandmother’s brother died of hunger. Artem dedicates one of his artistic memory projects to her. Another one he dedicates to the theme of rapprochement, overcoming isolation, escaping from agony.
We have come to love this gentle and extraordinarily peaceful giant once we had overcome our initial reflexes. And then it was just a tiny step to recognize him as someone with an extraordinarily tender message: It is called love.