LET US NOT FALL ASLEEP WHILE WALKING (2019)
Shortlisted, Author Book Award, Les Rencontres de la Photographie, Arles, 2019
Academy Award, Sony
International Photo Award, Lucie Foundation
Emerging Talent Award, Lens Culture
Project Development Award, Center
Award of Excellence, Alexia Foundation
€39.00 EUR / £35.00 UK / $50.00 USA (+ shipping)
“An Album for _______” by Oksana Zabuzhko (introduction) (pdf)
“On Decommunisation” – ©Sébastien Gobert (pdf)
“Hybrid State | Hybrid War | Hybrid Law” – ©Prof. Outi Korhonen (pdf)
“Veterans Within” – ©Jack Losh (pdf)
Let Us Not Fall Asleep While Walking is actually filled with much more than Denil’s consistently strong photographs. Interleaved among the images are essays (on yellow paper) and newspaper clippings (in enlarged type, sometimes of half cut pages) that provide context to the events on the ground. Denil has also included seven sections of personal obituaries of the fallen (on slightly smaller/thinner pages), each with a crumpled family photo, a biography (including the way the person was killed), and some anecdotes about their participation in the protests or their lives more generally. This approach gives faces and personalities to the faceless, making the political abstraction of the uprising much more human. Additional found imagery and ephemera (including a few children’s drawings) are also interspersed, providing further allusions to tides of religion, war, and faded memories. As an integrated flow, the ideas merge and reinforce each other, with Denil’s photographs providing the backbone framework of the photobook and the other materials adding richness and nuance. The overall design is dense and often complicated but undeniably well-executed, the varied pieces coming together naturally and without distraction.
Denil’s use of overtly cinematic staging in this project is definitely an artistic risk, but one that pays off handsomely in the ways it opens up the subtle psychology of Ukrainian people. Let Us Not Fall Asleep While Walking is a layered study of protest and its real human consequences, one that takes the specific circumstances of the Euromaidan situation and broadens and stylizes its outcomes, lessons, and meanings. The result is a memorably excellent body of work and photobook, one that seems to get more vivid and touching with each reading.
Sofie Crabbé, August 3, 2019
With the book “LET US NOT FALL ASLEEP WHILE WALKING” David Denil shows himself not only to be a clever image maker, but also an erudite narrator and an excellent researcher and analyst. Denil highlights various facets of the conflict through found footage and his own staged photographic recordings that float between dream and reality capsulated in a cinematic manner. The footage is interwoven with newspaper clippings – the result of four years of collecting – along with online articles and testimonials from friends / family of deceased crusaders. Various in-depth texts contribute to contextualization such as a fictional essay by Oksana Zabuzhko, one of the most acclaimed voices in Ukrainian literature, and prose about the decommunism of journalist Sébastien Gobert, who lives in Kiev. The book meanders from a humane documentary of the internal fragmentation within the hybrid state of Ukraine, to a commentary on unpunished attacks on activists and an unconcealed criticism of frozen research, but there is also room for hopeful stories of helping hands. This work expresses in a unique, moving way the experience of a disruptive policy and a human conflict, without betraying its complexity.