Sergey Bykov

I was born in july 1967 in Kuibyshev, Russia and grew up in a small town up in the south of Ural mountains. My parents were both construction engineers.

In 1987 I graduated mechanical college and moved to the north, Tiumen region where for around two years I worked as engineer-designer in a company that repaired equipment for the oil industry.

In 1989 I moved to Saint-Petersburg, started studying at the Railways Academy but quit it soon and instead joined a monastery in a suburb of S-Petersburg, where studied the basics of Vedic literature for the next five years.

In 1998 I started studying family psychology in the Academy of Culture of S-Petersburg, but already in 1999  decided to move abroad. A chain of accidents brought me first to Brussels and soon after to Oostende, Belgium, where I studied Dutch and followed one year of “Film and Video Kunst” in Kunst Academie, Oostende.

In 2001 i was offered a job as a cook in a vegetarian restaurant in Gent. I moved again and worked during the days, while during the evenings I followed my adolescent dream and studied photography in Sint-Lucas Academy, Gent.

Four years of the formal studies of photography didn’t really bring me closer to what i was looking for. Following my personal search at the end of the second school year (during the summer of 2003) I took part in the workshop of Michael Ackerman at TPW, Italy. There I found something that reanimated in me the hope to find the way of belonging to the time around me with the help of photography, to unite the lies I present and the truths I hide.

I remember my shock when Michael threw away a good eighty percent of pictures adored in my photo-school, saying “I hate reportage”. Truth hurts. But I saw that the way he judges includes his deep respect of my personality and that exactly this moves him to do this dirty job – to say the true, to point out the mistakes, the foolishness, the destructive habit to hide myself behind the generic and what’s publicly accepted as normal, good. He inspired me to pay attention to what really matters wether it is something big or tiny. By suggesting to be “as less photographer as possible” he inspired me to try this media on, to play with it, to find the way it fits me.

The first thing I was intensely busy with after meeting Michael was my polaroid self-portraits – i started it immediately after my returning from his workshop.

It was one of the tasks during the workshops – to take a portrait of myself and since then i was haunted by its possibilities to capture directly what i feel rather then translating it through what i see, to understand myself  better by observing the states of my own being, to create the mystery out of my daily routine, to alter the truth … During the next two years it grew into 44 polaroid portraits that were exposed in the year 2007 at the “Month of Photography” in Krakow. At the same time i was working on two other projects “Und doch” and “Après Nous”.

“Und doch” (2004-2006) – is a personal love story. I’ve dug it out of the grave. Unreal never is, real never is not. Everything that has its beginning must end – it isn’t around anymore and yet (hence – “Und Doch”) it still is, since this time of my life I lived so completely, with all its ups and downs that it has become part of myself. With its help I was born, “dead”, and re-born again: transformed into new me, one who’s being able to look at the world with less pre-judging, detachment or attachment, yet still, with love.

“Après Nous” (2002-2010) – collection of portraits of people i met on my way: relatives, loves, friends, colleagues i used to work with,  places i visited. The oldest and the biggest part of my work. Not relaying on objectivity, documentary-ness and chronological order I tried to re-create my direct experience of facing the reality around me, as brought back from the past by the waves of my memory, as chain of flashes of bright, meaningful moments.

I must confess that I love sad things in life as i love joy of life itself, respecting its complement. Without these two working together, my work would fail and stuck in a define classification. I felt that if I was going to create a complete piece of work, I needed to find different means to define these emotions in subtle ways. I do not think I have all the answers. I am always looking for new ways to say old things, or sometimes I am just searching for my way. I keep reading, watching, experimenting, tinkering and weaving all together like spider making a web, being in love with the process as much as I am with results.

Price and edition

 All images are available at FotoDepartment Gallery.

50 x 60 cm, edition 12 / €1200

Our website contains a limited range of works. The artist’s prints archive is available in person in FotoDepartment Gallery or by