David Denil: Let Us Not Fall Asleep While Walking
18 January —
04 February 2018

selected works


Voloshyn Gallery is proud to present the solo photography show Let Us Not Fall Asleep While Walking of the Belgian artist David Denil.

For David, photography is a research instrument which allows creating stills that unfold the space beyond the photographic slice of time. David adopts the visual approach to depict Ukraine's present, which is as strongly connected to its history as ever.

His Let Us Not Fall Asleep While Walking photo project documents the psychological state of Ukrainian residents, collisions between the past and the present, and hopes for a future without war.

David had worked on the project for 50 days. Counter to documentary conventions, he chose to focus not on the war in the east but on the life he saw in Kyiv. By striking up conversations with the people he met on the streets and discussing the conflict and their interpretations of their life, David weaved their accounts into a cohesive whole, in which all images arise as individual lived experiences. His shots highlight individual lives and acts of self-expression, reflecting Ukrainian psychological identity and the crisis.

The project’s title comes from Taras Shevchenko’s last poem, “Days are passing, nights are passing.” The line “Let me not fall asleep while walking” was altered to ‘Let US…” to encompass the Ukrainian nation in its entirety.

The artist describes the project as follows: “I see my work as a collection of short impulses on the given subject. The main goal is to produce a durable work over time where collisions with the past and the future are implied as autonomous realities that question our daily motivations.”

“David Denil’s project is important to our viewers because it offers an outsider’s perspective on ourselves. We have grown accustomed to a whole range of illogical, archaic phenomena and objects, and it doesn’t even cross our minds that some might find them strange, and that their validity might be called into question. Our vision of reality and our potential is defined by our existence within the Soviet and post-Soviet space. We are proud to present David Denil’s photographs because research projects of this kind are of utmost importance to our society, offering an opportunity to analyze ourselves and our actions, and to change for the better,” notes Max Voloshyn, the co-owner of Voloshyn Gallery.

At present, David Denil is working on a concept for a book by the same title with the Swiss artist Melina Wilson. The edition would present an expanded version of the Let Us Not Fall Asleep While Walking project, and would include 137 photographs, after the number of persons killed in the February of 2014, during the Revolution of Dignity. Photographic works will be supported by found video footage, texts and archival sources. The book is scheduled for publication in Ukraine in the early 2018.

David Denil was born in Leuven, Belgium. He lives and works in Ghent, Belgium. He has a degree in engineering. His interest in photography was sparked when he saw Jacob Riis’s “How the Other Half Lives” in 2014. Fascinated by the conceptual approach that tracked daily lives and explored social injustice through the medium of striking lighting and shadows, as well as stunning compositions, David sought to adapt the method to contemporary subject matter.