#20 The Graduate Issue 2023

This year The Graduate Issue attracted more submissions than ever before, from artists from all over the world. The ten projects selected and shown here use photography in intelligent and at times ground-breaking ways, dealing with urgent issues such as the environment, identity, and violence, as well as the medium of photography itself and how it’s implicated in these problems. We celebrate: Yshao Lin, Massimiliano Corteselli, Antollini Otic, Alejandra Orjuela, Lyssa Harakis-Parish, Sumi Anjuman, Aaryan Sinha, Maki Hayashida, Anja Segermann, and Vavara Uhlik.

Photoworks thanks all who put forward their work, and the selection panel who had the difficult task of whittling these projects down: writer and curator Sunil Shah, Seen Fifteen gallerist and Peckham 24 co-founder Vivienne Gamble, Photoworks writer in residence Tanlume Enyatseng, Photoworks curator Julia Bunneman, and Photoworks Editor Diane Smyth. Thanks also to Photoworks Digital Marketing Officer Natalia Gonzalez Acosta, who provided expert help on the day.

This year the selection panel recognises two additional Highly Recommended artists: Andrew Awanda for his project LOVE IS THE MESSAGE, an energetic look at the queer scene in Baltimore, and Tim Rod for his series Don’t Forget the Knifish, which explores the relationship he has established with his father, who he first met at the age of 26. We wish them, and all other 2023 graduates, the very best of luck for the future.

Sonechko, Yak Ty? [Sunshine, How Are You?] by Varvara Uhlik considers the identity of Ukrainians who, like the artist, grew up after the Soviet Union. Born five years after the fall of Soviet rule, Uhlik was often told how lucky she was to have avoided the regime, yet her childhood was informed by this era’s culture. She experienced the strict discipline of the Russian empire, for example, and grew up in the east of the country, surrounded by Soviets including her parents, teachers, and neighbours. At the same time Uhlik remembers a happy childhood, eating her mother’s sour cherry dumplings and climbing trees. These contradictions have left her with many questions about her Ukrainian identity, and these questions have intensified following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Uhlik is now based in London and is unable to visit her family back home. She is therefore using photography as a means to travel back to east Ukraine and her own past, and to de- and re-construct her childhood memories.

Born in 1997 in Dnipro, Ukraine, Varvara Uhlik studied Photography and the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, Netherlands, and just graduated from the BA Fine Art Photography at Camberwell College of Arts. Uhlik’s work often blends fiction and reality, creating absurd and comic environments through which to process complex emotions. Her work has been exhibited at Southwark Park Galleries, London in 2023, and The Grey Space in the Middle, The Hague, in 2022. 

FInd out more about Varvara Uhlik here.

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