Thanks to the experience of working as a train conductor, Julie Poly captures the very essence of travelling in Ukrainian trains in her project Ukrzaliznytsia, which is also the name of the state railway company. Employing both photographs of train decorations and staged images of models representing typical passengers, the author develops a pseudo-documentary approach inspired by real people and situations. Soldiers, business women, gigolos, and sport athletes, are among the characters that give life to a unique and often erotic atmosphere. When they change their shoes to slippers or lie barefoot, the notions of privacy and personal boundaries are dim in the train light where everyone who gets on board knows its rules. Swept away by the Russian invasion, this unique normality now also represents hope for the future.
Julie Poly (Ukraine, 1986) – real name Yulia Polyashchenko – was born in Stakhanov, Lugansk area, and is now based in Germany after fleeing Kyiv. Inspired by Boris Mikhailov’s projects and her education at Kharkiv School of Photography, she took her first pictures at the Kinnyi Market in Kharkiv. Today her portfolio lists commissions for fashion magazines such as Vogue, L’Officiel, Harper’s Bazaar, and international art publications like Dazed & Confused and i-D. Poly’s art practice is merging her experience in documentary and staged photography. Her mockumentary and slightly grotesque projects often come back to the areas of their genesis, like railway stations or arcade centres, dialoguing with the simple residents of Ukraine.