Irina Yulieva was born in Leningrad, Russia, 1978. Studied photojournalism named after Y.A.Galperin in Saint-Petersburg, 2008 – 2010. Since 2009 has participated in group exhibitions and has got awards such as “Gold mark” for best student work of faculty of photojournalism n 2008-2009, has been elected as a finalist of young photographers contest Shots Directory Photography Competition 2011, England, as well as nominated in Festival’s competition Circle of life, Lithuania, Vilnius, in 2010. 

Nikita Shokhov works in professional photography for more that 8 years, collaborating internationally with magazines and galleries (USA, UK, Russia, France, Netherlands, Argentina), as well as with leading media, such as Harper's Bazaar Art, Snob, L'Express, ELLE, Interview, Time Out, Afisha, Lenta etc. His personal projects were published in The Guardian, Le Monde, L'Insense Photo, Calvert Journal. Was awarded by World Press Photo for Staged portraits in 2014. 

A road to life

Life as a constant pilgrimage - to yourself or after yourself, or to an invisible other who saves you. Maturity and pilgrimage are the two directions of motion, two evolving actions, two expectations. Both spaces are unstable and contradictory, somatic and ecstatic. They are determined by faith in a better tomorrow, looking like a ritual of despair, though. In this publication for YET we combined two projects by the photographers Irina Yulieva “Grazed Knees” and Nikita Shokhov “Sacred Procession”, making for each other in order to define the base of Being.  

Irina Yulieva. Performance of maturing

“What happens when you pay close attention to anything, especially routine behaviour, is that it changes.”
The Meaning of Life, in Blurring of Art and Life, Allan Kaprow, 1993.
Grazed Knees by Irina Yulieva documents the performance of maturing. The characters’ movements are spontaneous, wild, and seemingly not connected to each other. Nevertheless, seen together in a sequence of images, they form one dance: a teenage girl shaking her hair loose; a shirtless youngster tramples something invisible on the floor of a rural club; a girl closes her eyes tightly while pointing a toy gun at her temple; a man in a winter cap clumsily hangs over a branch of a tree; and a boy, wearing an unbuttoned existentially checkered shirt, smokes while pedalling on a home trainer… A viewer sees in the photographs the broken (or is it cracking?) body language of kids, teenagers, middle-aged and elderly people. Maturing turns out to be a transitional state that may never end.
One can compare Yulieva’s project with a performance not only because photographs focus on the body and the gestures of impetuosity and protest. The photographer’s children, her father, a second cousin, an aunt, daughter’s friends and other residents of the Bolshoy Sabsk village, where Irina spent her childhood and later brought her children for the summer holidays, - all of them are taking part in a show that can be called, following the terminology of Richard Schechner, a ‘performance of everyday life’. A renowned researcher of performance studies suggested to consider any action we make a performance. An artist and an art theorist Allan Kaprow took this idea even further - by discussing the performance of breathing. The most natural and the simplest act can become a performance in case a person pays all his attention to the act and withdraw it from the field of the unconscious and the mechanical. Reflecting upon banal activities, an artist realises soon that these activities are in fact very odd. Then he arrives, according to Kaprow, at a ‘territory of the familiar unfamiliar’.
The author of Grazed Knees got exactly to this territory. Irina Yulieva looked closely into the well-known process of maturing and… fired at it with a slingshot. As the result of this peering the feeling of the artist’s eternal carelessness, that she shared with the characters of the project, transformed into a new state which now demands to close a particular life and photographic chapter: “During the shooting period, in 2009-2011, I still felt myself like a teenager. Now everything has changed, and I even photograph differently. The book Grazed Knees puts an end to the whole epoch”.
Nikita Shokhov. Sacred Procession

Skep­ti­cism towards the church is no sur­prise in Rus­sia today. Many true believ­ers aban­doned churches because of its dependence from the government. But around 30000 pil­grims ­from all over the coun­try par­ti­cip­ate in the Velikoret­sky Pro­ces­sion of the Cross, held annu­ally in the Kirov Oblast, Rus­sia. I joined procession three times because I was interested to understand how modern life correlates with 600 years old Ortodox tradition.


Irina Yulieva
Nikita Shokhov