Monday, June 05, 2006

Carolyn Drake

This wonderful photo was taken by Carolyn Drake, the photographer I had hoped to work with here. She's based in Lviv, a good day's journey's away from me in Kharkov. But perhaps one day she'll cover with her photos what I cover with my words. Lord knows we've tried. Last fall, we sent off our application for the Taylor-Lange Award, given annually by the Center for Documentary Studies "to encourage collaboration between documentary writers and photographers in the tradition of the acclaimed photographer Dorothea Lange and writer and social scientist Paul Taylor."

Carolyn and I had hoped to document the men and women who meet in Ukraine through the marriage agencies. Last week, we learned we were among the finalists for this year's award. The winner was actually another team focusing (Larry Frolick and Donald Weber) focusing on Ukraine.

Quoting from their proposal: "As our work in Kiev, Chernobyl, and the industrial city of Dnepro-Dzerxhinsk shows, we've found a European people desperate to survie, isolated at the margilns of the West's consumer-driven economy... With its 2004 Orange Revolution, Ukraine threw out the old Russian-backed political regime and elected a democratic leadership, its first since 1918. Hopes for this new regilme were high bur foundered as the Revolution failed to meet the needs of a civic society. Prostitution, drug use, and street gangs, exploded under these ressures... What comes next? This is the question we intend to discover in our work."

As for Carolyn's beautiful photo, it captures the back-stage point of view of a beauty stage at a western Ukrainian university. Many Ukrainian universities host such paegants. I know someone affiliated with an Odessa university who told me of a foreigner coming in to teach a course. The dean of the university showed him the beauty shots of all the university's many beautiful students, being sure to point out which ones would be available -- or perhaps I should say enrolled -- in his class.

Photograph copyright Carolyn Drake. Used with permission.