Featured photographer: Nikola Ilievski
Through his photography work entitled Wasted Youth, After Hours, Nikola Ilievski, a young audio-visual artist from Skopje, explores a perspective of a young man who struggles financially, copes with being neurotic, and lives in the Macedonian capital which at moments is just another desolate place on the map of South East Europe. Perhaps, that’s the same state of mind omnipresent among many other young and queer living in this city, not only Nikola, the least to say.
The photography work depicts a general atmosphere of a calm–emptied of people–Skopje, yet, where the youths are present, having another day go by; On the photographs: Nikola, some of his friends, and some total strangers as well. They are all in their twenties, and they portray a perspective of a generation which has never had much room to decide anything in life, but from whom it is expected to do something.
(So, here’s something.)
As Nikola remarks, the project is a social commenting to what is happening in Skopje – sometimes a very silent place for living which is an odd and strange occurrence. That might be particularly true for summer, or about the time Nikola started out with his photography work back in 2016.
The concept of the entire photography project may have also been a product of a bored state of mind, maybe an overwhelming amount of boredom that the artist and his friends went to experience. The reason so? In Nikola’s words: “We never had enough money to do the things that normal young people get to do.”
Some of the first shots came out as this “gang” was roaming around the empty GTC (Gradski Trgovski Centar) building in the very heart of the Skopje city center.
“I couldn’t help but fall in love with the lights coming from all the different storefronts. In the same time, they were also looking so abandoned and just sad. It was almost like someone was begging me to start experimenting with my camera,” Nikola recalls the moments he made some of the first shots.
He continues: “I quickly realized that GTC is where we always end up hanging out the most. It was here that I produced my first ever cohesive and complete project entitled ’00:00′, that was during last summer. It is an identity study of two of my friends. I took photos of them every single day for an entire month. Also, I did some night-time landscape photography that attempted to capture the spirit of the empty city on a summer night.”
Since then, Nikola’s photography collection is continually updated visual-story that puts the lives and reality of young people in perspective, most of whom live ‘below average’, in the sense of what are their options with the limited amount of cash or so.
On the margins of city life
As much as Wasted Youth, After Hours is an ongoing project, it is also a fraction of a larger project of its creator, entitled Nestvarnost. Or as Nikola explains, it is his little world where he gets to express through photography, music and video.
A state in which, all is real but in a virtual way. The effect and the depth of the photos–Nestvarnost–are built upon carefully chosen colors, as well as a play with lights, visually stimulating enough to make the subject of the photo available for connecting with it emotionally.
This collection is made by and mainly around young people that are going through some real shit, and it’s meant for and devoted to them too. It also is the only efficient healing process that I find to work for me, working on my photos and audio.
The fact that they allowed me to capture them in all of their glory and vulnerability makes me feel extremely honored that any human being would ever even let me connect with them in such a way. This is what makes photography such an intimate experience.
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