Rare photos inside the famous Kiev Strip Club, Rhinoceros, with photographer Julie Poly

“I wanted to highlight a new wave of feminism in Ukraine”, says photographer Julie Poly about her new art zine Hrishnytsia, a glossy publication that explores patriarchal cultures in Ukraine and a new era of feminism unfolding in the country’s capital, Kiev. The centerpiece of the project is a photo series at one of the city’s most notorious strip clubs, Star Rhino, which subverts the play’s mundane male gaze by featuring creatives on stage, including the artistic director of the Kiev Symphony Orchestra Bogdan Moroz. “Sometimes in Ukraine some environments are really not a safe place for women,” Poly says of the footage, “but there are a lot of women in Kiev who question this and create space for women’s stories. Ukrainian where there were none before. ” .

Hrishnytsia is the feminist zine that sums up this movement. Within its pages is a specially commissioned original work, created especially for the zine by a range of artists. Pinchuk Art Prize 2019 winners Mikhail Koptev and Alina Kleitman have produced a photo series featuring women with sexist slurs written on their bodies, a nod to the slurs Ukrainian women regularly receive online. Their work is published alongside fashion photographs by Maryna Tymchenko, Yevhenia Laptiy and Chris Voitkiv and illustrations by Kateryna Lykhach that respond to the brief of women redefining art history. HrishnytsiaThe graphic design of 1990’s tattoo typography riffs and magazine features broadcasts of original artwork by tattoo artists Katya Kopeikina and Okovnet.

“I think people don’t realize how women’s rights in Ukraine are still quite a controversial issue,” Poly said of the need for a publication like Hrishnytsia – “There are many problematic standards regarding how women should be treated whether they are dressed glamorously or in clothes that might be considered by some to be revealing. “

Growing up in Ukraine in the 1980s and 1990s, Poly is familiar with this misogyny. She remembers a terrifying lack of safety on the streets for women and girls, and women were not taken seriously because their outfits were not seen as conservative. But there is a new era of feminism in Ukraine that she is passionate about, and she jumped on that moment with her art zine. She is undoubtedly the right candidate to showcase these artists, Poly herself has established herself as a photographer with a rapidly growing global audience who love her keen focus on Ukrainian life – recent series Ukrzaliznytsia saw her photographing travelers on Ukraine’s east and west rail lines.

Hrishnytsia is produced alongside Kyiv Art and Fashion Days, a new initiative by Sofia Tchkonia, the founder of Tbilisi Fashion Week. As Tchkonia did with Tbilisi Fashion Week – which put designers such as celebrity favorite George Keburia and couture perfectionist Situationist on the map – Tchkonia is now working to nurture the new wave of talent in Kiev, ranging from photographers like Poly to fashion designers like Valeria Zhilyova – who makes costumes from her Kiev studio and Gunia Project, a renowned Ukrainian artisan brand whose silk scarves are worn by women around the world. Following the success of her new zine, Poly will start work on another issue, which she will start producing in 2022 – “there is so much great creativity to show in Ukraine,” she says.



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