Taras KuščynskyjUntitled selections (196X)

Viewing Kuščynskyj‘s work it’s easy to get caught up in interrogating the anxiety of influence.

For example, you can’t see an image like this and not think of Arno Rafael Minkkinen; or, consider the way he frames subjects against backgrounds as a sort of revisionism of Koudelka where fixation on the relationship between perspective, space and people positioned in it it becomes less concrete, more oneiric fleeting/unstable.

Really though what ought to be celebrated about Kuščynskyj are his poses. And I think his work is only as good as the singularity of the poses he presents. The above all work because the way the subjects inhabit the frame is an organic outcropping of the environment. There’s a meditative lack of self-consciousness, an unnerving unity of form and function.

It’s probably not entirely inaccurate to draw comparisons with the Czech New Wave–since Kuščynskyj was making most of his work concurrently. However, I think arguable a bigger influence would’ve likely been André Kertész–who was also unparalleled at presenting people in moments of uncontrived immediacy.

(Another interesting exercise: there’s almost no way Emmet Gowin wasn’t familiar with Kuščynskyj. It’s fascinating to see the way Gowin uses the same sort of end–documenting unselfconsciousness–by adopting a wider palate of from non-contrivance to stylistically over contrived than Kuščynskyj. Yet, Gowin never managed to make an image that provided such a singular and perfectly realized pose as the middle image in the right column above.)

I find it galling Kuščynskyj‘s work isn’t more widely available. There’s some clips of his work laying around if you care to search for them and they suggest that what’s available of his work online is of shabby quality compared to the original prints.

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