Rita Ostrovska

Rita Ostrovska (b. 1953, Kyiv) is a Ukrainian artist. She joined the Palace of Pioneers’ photographic club when she was 14 to 15 years old. After graduating from high school, she began working as the darkroom master’s assistant at the atelier “Exemplary Photography.” Ostrovska attended the Leningrad Institute of Cinema Engineering from 1971 to 1977 (today the Saint Petersburg State Institute of Film and Television). She spent a long period working at the Kyiv Planetarium as an artist and photographer. Ostrovska attended the Institute of Journalist Mastery in Kyiv between 1982 and 1983, which was founded by reporters Iryna Pap and Olena Polyshchuk. She headed the “Mgnoveniya” (Moments) photographic studio at the Municipal Station of Young Technicians and Arsenal Plant from 1984 until 1995. She joined the Poglyad (Gaze) photography collective in 1987. She won Photographer of the Year in 1993 at the Moscow First International Photo Festival.

She became a fellow of the ArtsLink Program and visited the USA the same year. During her stay there, Ostrovska visited Washington, DC, New York, and Baltimore, photographing the lives of Jewish emigrants from the former USSR. For the photobook project “Juden in der Ukraine, Schtetls, 1989-1994,” which was released two years later, the artist won the Albert Renger-Patzsch Prize in 1994. Ostrovska relocated to Kassel, Germany, where she now resides, in 2001. Ostrovska studied graphic art and ceramics at the Kassel Art Academy’s Department of Visual Communication in 2003-2009. In 2010, she launched the atelier “KunstVision” for photography, graphic and ceramics in Kassel.

Jewish identity is the author’s main topic, which is studied from a variety of perspectives, including family bonds (Family Album, started in 1978), documentation of life in shtetls (Jewish Shtetls of Ukraine, 1989-2002), emigration (Emigrants, 1993-2002, My Emigration, 2000-2001). However, Ostrovska has a broader view on her connection with the surrounding world, presenting it both through relationships with the close ones (Presence, started in 1995), and milieu—her own dwelling (My Home, Kyiv, 1985-2001) or nature elements (Breath of Life, 1994-2001). The photographer also concentrates on corporeality as a way of manifesting human relations (Art-Portrait, started in 1986;Body Faces, started in 1996).

Solo shows:

1987—“Porträts“, Leipzig University, Leipzig, FRG

1992—“Shargorod”, as a part of “Culture Night”, Nancy, France

1992—“A nejen hřbitovy”, Galerie 4, Cheb, Czech Republic

1993—”The Jews of Ukraine”, The Sternberg Center of Judaism, London, UK

1993—”Shargorod”, Le Liue gallery, Lorient, France

1995—Gallery in der Brotfabrik, Berlin, Germany

1995— “Das jüdische Album—Juden in der Ukraine”, Marienbad Halle, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany

1996—”Juden in der Ukraine” (book presentation), NRZ Forum gallery, Essen, Germany

1996—”Die Juden in der Ukraine, 1989-1995, Schtetls”, Kulturamt Friedrichshain photo gallery, Berlin, Germany

1997— “Juden in der Ukraine, fotografien 1989-1994”, as a part of Women’s Festival, Hamburg, Germany

1997—”Juden in der Ukraine, fotografien 1989-1994″, Neue Galerie Museum, Kassel, Germany

1998—“Livets Ande”, Five projects”, Museum for Photographic Art, Odense, Denmark

1998—Goldenes Kalb gallery and Neue Galerie, Aarau, Switzerland

1998—”Juden in der Ukraine, fotografien 1989-1994″, Museum Zundorfer Wehrturm, Cologne, Germany

1998—Gentofte Kunstbibliotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

1998—“Євреї в Україні, штетли, 1989-1995 / Jews in Ukraine, Shtetls, 1989-1995”, Central House of Artists, Kyiv, Ukraine

1999—“Album juif, Émigrants 1993-1997”, as a part of Histoire de Voir 99, Month of photography festival, Saint-Die-des-Vosges, France

1999—“Juifs en Ukraine, Shtetls, 1989-1995”, as a part of festival in Die, Die, France

2000—“Aktporträts”, Goldenes Kalb gallery, Aarau, Switzerland

2000—“Мой Дом, Киев / My Home, Kyiv”, Tadzio gallery, Kyiv, Ukraine

2000—”Erosionen, Entschwindende Welt der Schtetl”, Lehrhaus, Zurich, Switzerland

2001—“Кольори штетлу / Colours of Shtelt”, Macor club, Kyiv, Ukraine

2004—AAA gallery, Kassel, Germany

2002—”Art Existenzia” (together with Emma Beglarova), Mystez gallery, Kyiv, Ukraine

2007—“Haus des LebensDer Jüdische Friedhof Kassel”, Rathaus, Kassel, Germany

2010—“Erde, Feuer & Wasser”, KunstVision atelier, Kassel, Germany

2011—“Atem des Lebens”, KunstVision atelier, Kassel, Germany

2012—“Atem des Lebens”, Galerie im Verwaltungsgerichtshof, Kassel, Germany 

2012—“Vor dem 11. September 2001…”, KunstVision atelier, Kassel, Germany

2015—Atelier Rundgang at KunstVision atelier, Kassel, Germany

2021—“Jüdisches Album”, Leibniz Institute for Jewish History and Culture—Simon Dubnow, Leipzig, Germany



Group shows:

1983—“Восемь фотографов из Киева / Eight Photographers from Kyiv”, Vilnius, Kaunas, Lithuanian SSR

1989—“150 лет фотографии / 150 Years of Photography”, Manezh Central Exhibiton Hall, Moscow, Russian SFSR

1991—International Soviet-American Exhibition “Фотографируют женщины / Women Photograph”, Ryazan Regional Art Museum, Ryazan, Photocentre on Gogolevskiy boulevard, Moscow, Russian SFSR

1991—“Contemporary Russian Photography”, Roy Boyd, Chicago, Il, USA

1992—IV International Photo Competition & Photo exhibition, Nahum Goldman Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, Israel, Tel-Aviv

1992—“Litsa: Hedendaagse portretfotografie uit Rusland, Wit-Rusland en de Oekraine / Litsa Contemporary Portrait Photography from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine”, Stichting CIRC, Amsterdam, Netherlands

1993— First Moscow International Photo festival, Photocentre on Gogolevskiy boulevard, Moscow, Russia

1993—“Images d`Ukraine”, Chateau d’Eau gallery, Toulouse, France

1994—“Искусство современной фотографии: Россия, Украина, Белоруссия / Art of Contemporary Photography: Russia, Ukraine, Belarusias”, Central House of Artists, Moscow, Russia (curator—Evgeny Berezner)

1994—International Exhibition of Women’s Photography (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, USA, France), “На Солянке” gallery, Moscow, Russia

1998—“Перспективи периферійного зору / Perspectives of Peripheral Vision”, the Soros Center for Contemporary Art, Kyiv, Ukraine

1998—exhibition of 1990s Ukrainian photography, as a part of Month of photography, Bratislava, Slovakia

1999—“Интерфото 99 /. Interfoto 99”, Little Manezh, Moscow, Russia

1999— IV International Exhibition “Фотографируют женщины / Women Photograph”, Little Manezh, Moscow, Russia

2000—“Мужчины в моей жизни / Men in My Life”, as a part of VII International Exhibition “Фотографируютженщины / Women Photograph”, Saint Petersburg State History, Saint Petersburg, Russia (curator—Viktoria Buivyd)

2000—“Colours of Shtetls”, Jerusalem, Israel

2001—“Spejlkabinettet: Fotografier og ansigter”, Nikolaj Contemporary Art Centre, Copenhagen, Denmark

2001—“Spejlkabinettet: Portrættets variante”, Museum for Photographic Art, Odense, Denmark

2001—“Агада / Agada” programme (together with Irina Klymova and Lev Skop), Tadzio gallery, Kyiv, Ukraine

2004—“BBK FotoEdition”, Kasseler Sparkasse, Kassel, Germany

2005—“HESSIALE 2005. Landeskunstaussetellung BBK Hessen”, Südflügel im Kulturbahnhof culture centre, Kassel, Germany

2007—“One Shot Each”, Museum for Photographic Art, Odense, Denmark

2009—“Ukrainian photography 1989-2009”, as a part of Bratislava Month of Photography, Clarissine church, Bratislava, Slovakia (curators—Irina Ruzina, Natalia Tarasova)

2011—“Die Wanderung der Söhne Israels”, Cologne- Mainz- Chemnit, Germany

2011— “PHOTOGRAPHY CALLING!”, Sprengel Museum Hannover, Hannover, Germany (curators—Inka Schube, Thomas Weski)

2012—“Perestroika, Liberalization and Experimentation (1980s-2010)”, as a part of FotoFest 2012 Biennial, Houston, USA (curators—Irina Chmyrova,Evgeny Berezner, Natalia Tarasova)

2012—“Вот странствия сынов Израиля / The Migration of the Sons of Israel”, Museum of Jewish Memory and Holocaust in Ukraine, Dnipropetrovsk, Lavra gallery, Kyiv, Ukaine

2013— “Frauen/Women”, Johanna Breede Fotokunst gallery, Berlin, Germany

2013—“The Wanderings of the Sons of Israel”, Skizza gallery, Jerusalem, Israel

2014—“Keramik & Bild”, KunstVision atelier, Kassel, Germany

2015—“Das Fenster / The Window”, Johanna Breede Fotokunst gallery, Berlin, Germany

2015—“Keramik & Bild ІІ”, KunstVision, Kassel, Germany

2016—as a part of “Kunstmesse Kassel 2016 festivavl, documenta-Halle, Kassel, Germany

2016—exhibiton of ceramics and photography, Sara Nussbaum Center, Kassel, Germany

2018—“Vom Verschwinden und Erscheinen—über Ephemere in der Fotografie”, Alfred Ehrhardt Foundation, Berlin, Germany (curator—Marie Christine Jádi)

2018—as a part of Kunstmesse Kassel 2018 festival, documenta-Halle, Kassel, Germany

2021—“Untitled”, Johanna Breede Fotokunst, Berlin, Germany

2021—“Чутливість / Sensitivity”, Mystetskyi Arsenal National Cultural and Art and Museum Complex, Kyiv, Ukraine, (curators—Maksym Gorbatskyi, Solomia Savchuk, Oleksandr Soloviov)

2022—“Ukraine—the part to Freedom“, Noorderlicht, Groningen, Netherland (куратори—Катерина Радченко та Дональд Вебер)

“Denkmal Mensch”. Süddeutsche Zeitung, June 21, 1997.

de Waal, Willem. “Fotoausstellung in Freiburg im Breisgau: ‘Das jüdische Album – Juden in der Ukraine’”. Jüdische Rundschau Maccabi, no. 14 (1995).

“Die Welt des Schtetls im Lehrhaus. Eine Fotoausstellung und einige Neuerungen”. Neue Zürcher Zeitung, no. 31(2000).

Doehring, Gabriele. “Rita Ostrowskaja. Juden in der Ukraine, Fotografien 1989-1994”. Kultur Magazin, no. 33 (1997).

“Eine Dokumentation des Verschwindens. Das ‘jüdische Album’ der Fotografin Rita Ostrowskaja”. Süddeutsche Zeitung, 27 травня 1995.

“Ein zeitloses Stückchen Ewigkeit. Ukrainische Fotografin stellt in zwei Galerien aus”. Aargauer Zeitung, February 17, 1998.

“Fotos von Rita Ostrowskaja (Kiew)”. Brennpunkt. Magazin für Fotografie, no. 02 (1996).

“Gesichter als Seelenlandschaften. Rita Ostrowskaja zeigt ihr Werk in der Galerie Goldenes Kalb”. Neue Mittelland Zeitung, February 9, 2000.

Holländer, Katarina. “Das Ende der Schtetl”. Tachles, das jüdische Wochenmagazin, no. 31 (2001).

“Jüdisches Leben in Bild und Wort. Hohe Auszeichnung für Fotobuch”. WAZ, no. 114(1996).

Karassewa, Galina. “Ewige Wanderer (Geschrieben unter dem Eindruck der Fotoausstellung „Juden in der Ukraine“)”. Gemeindeblatt der Synagogen – Gemeinde Köln, no. 02 (1998).

Lemel, Sara. “Eine untergehende Kultur. Ukrainische Fotografin Rita Ostrowskaja auf dem ‘Festival der Frauen’”. Gießener Allgemeine, June 14, 1997.

Litsa: Hedendaagse portretfotografie uit Rusland, Wit-Rusland en de Oekraine. Amsterdam: Stichting CIRC, 1992. Published on the occasion of the exhibiton “Litsa: Hedendaagse portretfotografie uit Rusland, Wit-Rusland en de Oekraine / Litsa Contemporary Portrait Photography from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine” at Stichting CIRC, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Meier, Andrea. “Der Weg der Langsamkeit. Rita Ostrowskaja, Kiew, porträtiert ihre Welt”. Live: Veranstaltungsmagazin der Aargauer Zeitung, no. 07 (1998).

“Mit den amerikanischen Power-Frauen beginnt die Hammoniale. Das Festival-Angebot spannt sich vom internationalen Tanztheater aus Vietnam, Japan, Paris und New York zur Foto-Schau über ‘Jüdisches Leben in der Ukraine’”. Die Welt, June 11, 1997.

Neumann, Birgit. “Was noch übrig ist. Bilder einer verwaisten Gegenwart: ‘Juden in der Ukraine’ von Rita Ostrowskaja auf der 7. Hammoniale”. TAZ Hamburg, June, 11 1997.

Ostrovskaya, Rita. Jews in the Ukraine. Ostfildern: Cantz, 1996.

“Reste jüdischen Lebens. Rita Ostrowskajas Fotografien aus der Ukraine am Helsinghofer Platz”. Die Welt, June 13, 1996.

“Rita Ostrowskaja. Juden in der Ukraine”. Photonews, no. 09 (1996).

Sattler, Juliane. “Sonst wäre ein ewiger Winter”. HNA, no. 259(1997).

Schürmann, Martina. “Erinnerungen an die Gegenwart. Wo eine Welt verschwindet. ‘Juden in der Ukraine’: ein Buch und eine Ausstellung”. NRZ, no. 114(1996)

“Untergegangen. Fotografien von Rita Ostrowskaja in Berlin”. Frankfurter Rundschau, no. 159(1995).

Бондаренко, Тетяна [Bondarenko, Tetiana]. “Чорно-біла сучасність єврейських містечок в Україні”. DeutscheWelle, December 27, 2012. https://p.dw.com/p/13pqM.  

Вот странствия сынов Израиля. Dnipropetrovsk, 2012. Published on the occasion of “Вот странствия сынов Израиля” show в Музеї “Пам’ять єврейського народу і Голокост в Україні”, Дніпропетровськ, Україна. https://issuu.com/mordarius/docs/sons-of-israel-dnipro

Яковленко, Катерина [Iakovlenko, Kateryna]. “Быть в кадре: Рита Островская и неспешная фотография”. YourArt, May 4, 2020. https://supportyourart.com/conversations/rita-ostrovskaya/.

Une histoire mondiale des femmes photographes. Edited by Luce Lebart, Marie Robert. Paris: Editions Textuel, 2020.

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