Federico Clavarino: Ukraina Passport (Fiesta Ediciones, 2011)

Federico Clavarino (born 1984 in Turin, Italy ) is a photographer and educator based in Lisbon and Madrid.

After having completed a Master in Literature and Creative Writing at the Holden School in Turin, in 2007 he moved to Madrid where he studied photography at the BlankPaper School and began to develop his own photographic projects, following the courses of the photographer Fosi Vegue. Since 2011 he has worked at the BlankPaper School, where he teaches photography.

Published Work: 2010, La Vertigine, FiestaFiesta 02 (fanzine, monographic); 2011, Ukraina Pasport (book), Fiesta Ediciones; 2014, Italia o Italia (book), Akina Books; 2016, The Castle (book), Dalpine ; 2016, A companion to The Castle (companion volume), Dalpine & Temple ; 2018, La Vertigine, WittyKiwi revised edition; 2019, Hereafter, Skinnerboox.

Artist: http://federicoclavarino.com/

The following work, ‘Ukraina Passport’, was a lot more documentary and travel-based. I made a series of trips to Ukraine between 2009 and 2011, with the idea of making a work that would mix elements of history, politics and my personal experience of the place as an outsider, a bit like what Robert Frank did in ‘The Americans’. What I found out was that I was incapable of getting as deep into the place as I meant to. I didn’t speak Russian nor Ukrainian, and although I had studied the history of the place and delved into all the literature I could, there was a barrier I could not cross. My interest for the place had been something very spontaneous, I just happened to be in Odessa after failing to make a short documentary in the Danube Delta, and fell in love with the place. There was something I felt there that I just had to make into images. Then there came along all the thinking about Ukraine’s Soviet past and consumerist present, and all the tension between Russia and the EU, all the politics and the history that came oozing out of things and people (at least those I could talk to). The photography, I felt, was constantly falling short of my intentions. I wanted one thing and another came out. The work ended up looking more and more like something private, discreet, some kind of “carnet de voyage”, and less and less like this documentary fresco I wanted to paint of the place. I guess in this I ended up being more faithful to the initial feeling that had given impulse to the work.

Federico Clavarino in an interview with Laura Van Severen (Urbanautica.com)