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Photographer: Sasha Maslov
Publisher: Osnovy Publishing
Publication date: 2020
Print length: 128 pages
Language: English
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Ukrainian Railroad Ladies is a series of portraits of traffic controllers and safety officers at railroads of Ukraine. It is an exploration of why these professions still exist in the twenty-first century, given the almost complete automatization of railroad crossings. It is a study of the anthropological and social aspects of this phenomenon and the overall role of Ukraine’s railroad system.

The Ukrainian Railroad Ladies series has an aesthetic, educational, and humanistic bias, in that it serves to reflect the complex socio-political context which Ukrainian state structures work within. Of course, when it comes to the aesthetics behind the railway crossings, it’s not as if they’d been preemptively thought up and put together by somebody — that’s not what makes them so personal and distinctive.

They have come about because of how these people’s personal lives don’t stop when they come to work, and work doesn’t finish when they clock out either.

Sasha Maslov captured these signalwomen in the tradition of modern documentary photography, photographing each of his subjects in her everyday work environment, as if in the middle of her own small world. The clear and naive gaze of the lens on the subject of the portrait, alongside the subject’s own gaze on her future beholder, establishes a remote visual communication, trust, and mutual sympathy between the future observer and the photo series’ real-life subjects.

For every place and worker in the series there is only one standalone portrait, which has a comprehensive set of visual and ideological characteristics. However, the sheer number of photographs in the series shows just how varied and multifaceted this phenomenon can be, aesthetically and otherwise.
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