reviving 19th-century system to photograph Ukraine war

Looking for to doc the Russian invasion of Ukraine, photographer Edward Kaprov turned to a technique employed almost 200 yrs in the past in the course of the Crimean War. His haunting black-and-white portraits have a timeless high-quality to them, suggesting that while engineering has modified, war remains the same.

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Kaprov’s exhibition “The Experience of the Most up-to-date War” is at the Baron Gérard Art and Record Museum in Bayeux until 12 November as section of the Prix Bayeux Calvados-Normandy awards for war correspondents.

It is the fruit of several months spent likely back again and forth among the conflict in Ukraine and Israel, exactly where he is based mostly.

“I have attempted to juxtapose the previous and the current,” Kaprov states, a nod to the 19th-century photographic procedure he utilised recognized as moist plate, or collodion method, which prints the negatives on to glass somewhat than paper.

The procedure was utilized by British photographer Roger Fenton to document the previous two years of the Crimean War from 1854 to 1856.

In excess of a hundred decades later, Kaprov acquired a van and remodeled it into a darkish space on wheels – just like Fenton did, albeit with an engine as a substitute of a horse.

“I intentionally try out to confuse the viewer so that they search additional cautiously. What at initial seem as previous shots are in fact modern illustrations or photos,” he told RFI.

Soldiers at their base in Slavyansk region, Ukraine, June 2022.&#13
Part of the exhibition “The Previous Deal with of War” by Edward Kaprov for the Prix Bayeux war correspondents’ function, Oct-November, 2023.
© Edward Kaprov

Echoes of historical past

Kaprov grew up with tales of heroic wars and Russian exploits at the peak of the Soviet Union’s electric power. He never ever considered he would witness conflict firsthand.

His wake-up contact was a excursion to Bucha, where he saw a mass grave of Ukrainian civilians murdered in April 2022.

“My eyes refused to consider so a great deal cruelty and cynicism,” he writes in the exhibition notes.

Edward Kaprov speaking to a journalist at the Prix Bayeux Calvados-Normandy war correspondents awards exhibition, at the Musée d'art et d'histoire Baron Gérard, Bayeux, Normandy, on 12 October 2023.
Edward Kaprov speaking to a journalist at the Prix Bayeux Calvados-Normandy war correspondents awards exhibition, at the Musée d’art et d’histoire Baron Gérard, Bayeux, Normandy, on 12 October 2023. © RFI / Ollia Horton

When men and women requested him why he selected to go to the frontline in Ukraine, risking his lifetime to consider pictures, he responses just: “I simply cannot stand aside.”

Surrendering to chance

His topics have to stand really however for the image to just take variety, not an straightforward matter to ask in the middle of a war. However, he suggests the people today he fulfilled have been keen to participate, after they comprehended his method.

“I arrived up to them talking Russian, coming from Israel and holding this peculiar camera…” he recalls.

The effects are surreal black-and-white scenes, dreamlike, suspended in time. There are portraits of males and girls in uniform sitting down in trenches, in vehicles or beside the highway with trees or bombed-out buildings powering them.

Some specifics are in sharp concentration, other people are blurry, although some are lacking from the last print all alongside one another.

It’s all about technological manipulation, or “hocus-pocus”, Kaprov claims adjusting the lens, transforming the depth of area, mixed with a bit of luck.

Irrespective of his encounter, he admits to by no means staying fully confident what he’s heading to get. “I like worries,” he laughs, acknowledging that the venture was a great deal harder than he could have imagined.

Ghosts of war

Kaprov implies places in the frames wherever puppies, birds and other specifics could be noticed for the duration of the shoot, but disappeared from the final print simply because they moved at the previous moment.

They are however there in his memory, but now invisible, like ghosts. They belong to the stories Kaprov hopes to explain to when he compiles the photographs for a e-book.

In the meantime, the viewer is remaining haunted by photos of a past and present war, the futility of violence the thread concerning them.

“Nothing new under the sunlight,” Kaprov sighs, quoting the Bible’s E-book of Ecclesiastes. Individuals have often fought every single other and unfortunately will carry on to do so.

Kaprov suggests his wet-plate task is considerably from completed. He would like to return to Ukraine, in which there are topics he continue to desires to check out, like hurt troopers and their family members.

“I really do not think pictures can close the war, but it gives me a rationale to retain carrying out my do the job. To do what I do best with together with my struggling and my compassion.”

The shorter movie “Ukraine: a photographer in the war”, which paperwork Edward Kaprov’s perform in the field, won initial prize for grand format television at the 2023 Bayeux awards. It was produced in collaboration with Daniel Fainberg and Eugene Titiv, co-manufactured by Magneto Presse and Polka for Arte Reportage.

The Prix Bayeux Calvados-Normandy celebration is made up of eight exhibitions open to the public until finally 12 November.