Malanka is the sixth photography book by Ukrainian-American artist Yelena Yemchuk. Like all of Yemchuk's works, Malanka is personal, feminine, surreal and surrounded by a certain magic. The festival of the same name is a folklore ritual celebrated by ethnic Romanians in western Ukraine on January 14th, the old New Year in the Julian calendar. The origins of this passionate tradition are largely unknown. In 2019 and 2020, Yemchuk visited the town of Krasnoilsk to photograph the local Malanka. Basically, it's about driving away winter and revitalizing spring, a well-known custom that is reminiscent of the return of Persephone in Greek mythology. While photographing in Krasnoilks, Yemchuk also created a short film that premiered during her solo exhibition at the Ukrainian Museum in New York in 2023. The film stars Ukrainian artist Anya Domashyna and American actor Ebon Moss-Bachrach.
Yemchuk was born in Kyiv and emigrated to the USA when he was eleven. In her work she always creates oscillating intermediate worlds in which fiction and reality blur. She skillfully brings together the things that inspire and define her: the glamorous cinema of the 1960s, the social and built landscapes of the post-Soviet world, her Eastern European origins and her everyday life in New York.
Through Yemchuk's gaze, we immerse ourselves in the in-between, where her subjects always experience a kind of metamorphosis. Malanka contains a poetic essay by Romanian cultural journalist Ioana Pelehatǎi.