Kyiv-born artist Iryna Pap was one of the first and most successful female photographers from USSR. She worked for the biggest Soviet newspaper ‘Izvestia’ (News), led the department of photojournalism at the Institute of Journalistic Arts, took pictures of the Soviet elite and high-ranking guests, documented construction of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant, was named one of the best female photographers of her epoch, once even got inside a nuclear reactor, and, most importantly, captured the Ukrainian capital. Kyiv of the 60s and 70s through her lens appears vibrant, full of vital energy, monumental, somehow distant and yet surprisingly familiar at the same time.
Since Iryna Pop was an official soviet photographer, it’s no surprise that ideological ‘filters’ are applied on her pics: people are overwhelmingly happy, streets are clean, only festive events are shown, the city seems to be somehow too perfect. Sure, that Kyiv of the 60s and 70s doesn’t exist anymore and this lifestyle probably had never actually existed. But still, Iryna Pap’s archive is amazingly precise and profound when it comes to capturing the everyday life of the city inhabitants and raising the curtain of the past. These pictures are a true document of an epoch, which makes them even more valuable.
Those are mostly the photos from Iryna Pap’s personal archive that was accidentally found among the trash in the newspaper editorial office by another Ukrainian photographer Valeriy Myloserdov. Unfortunately, most of the photos she was commissioned to take are lost. Nowadays, the archive is being scanned and the biggest selection of Iryna Pap’s photos are available at the Facebook page, curated by her relatives and friends.