Oleksandr Burlaka / Олександр Бурлака

° 1982

Born in Kyiv (UA).

Ukrainian photographer, architect and visual artist Oleksandr Burlaka graduated from the Architecture faculty of the National University of Construction and Architecture in 2005. His artistic work encompasses an urban photography that examines national architecture and its many transformations in the post-Soviet era. He was a member of the Melnychuk-Burlaka Group (2007-2011), the Grupa Predmetiv (2011-2016) and co-founder and member of the curatorial and activistic interdisciplinary group Hudrada. In 2019 he published the photo book Balcony Chic that tells the story of the remarkable Ukrainian balcony culture.

Burlaka is first and foremost a visual artist. With his installations combining photography and architecture he brings the outside world into the confines of the museum. The artist plays with colours, shadows and light in order to capture the inconspicuous beauty of a street scene. His topographic research, sometimes rendered visual as a geographic mind map, reflects a profound social engagement and a particular interest for the building and living culture in the former Soviet territories.

For people in sunny, most often southern countries such as Spain or Italy, balconies are as natural as they are important. People use them to sunbathe, hang the laundry, read, gossip or smoke. But in Ukraine the situation is different; the balconies are a necessity born out of lack of space while also bearing witness to an emblematic culture of DIY and repair. The artist remembers his childhood home on the 16th floor of a concrete apartment building. “The wooden window frames were cracked, causing water to seep in when it rained. Every year birds would make their nests there. In the summer the balcony windows were always open but during winter the cracks had to be taped over with paper in order to keep the cold out. Our supply of potatoes and other groceries were kept on the balcony. It was a time of financial crisis and instability so people only relied on their own savings and made everything with their own hands.

In his photo book Balcony Chic he has collected hundreds of pictures of self-constructed and often primitive balconies which characterise the Ukrainian architectural landscape. In most cases they are unauthorised additions to houses and flats, as an extension of the private space into the outdoors. Aesthetics are clearly secondary; what we see is made out of wood, plastic and glass, half-painted and often decorated with flowers and filled to the brim with supplies and/or junk. The photographer focuses on the wide range of resourcefulness on display in various large cities such as Odessa, Kyiv and Lviv. The future will tell to what extent his visual report may be called historic, because the devastating war not only affects vulnerable individuals but also historic buildings, statues and ultimately even the most rickety of bay windows.


Items View all

Events View all

Ensembles View all