"SURVEILLANCE. A Typology of Oppression"

The actual work calls into question the relation between what we see and what we perceive in advance of the act of recognition. These photographs emphasize the borders not only of human perception, but the border where the consequences of human action meet reason.

The book consists of photographs of the walking yard and prison cell door spyholes in former political prisons in Eastern Europe (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Poland, Germany). The same places were used for similar purposes by different oppressive systems.

Previously, to keep people under control, they were isolated in special places and/or were under different methods of surveillance. Nowadays surveillance is taking new (digital) forms, but the main essence remains. Total physical and mind control of society.


For this project, I decided to work with historical material, because I believe that historical origins influence us more than most of us realize. Photographs, presented here, are both documentary and subjective at the same time. They embody real traces of events, objects and memories. And they serve as platforms for imagining these events, objects and memories in more interpretative form. They are a part of our surrounding and of our logic and of what makes sense when we put them together.

For me, a photograph is more a field that is open for interpretation than a representation. Therefore, it can evoke a paradox in our perception of what it is trying to convey. If we consider this interplay as a liberation from rigid ideologies – permitting the creation of something new – it can broaden our perception and create and open up new horizons, through its ability to overtake our reality.In the book each photograph is marked with its personal number which refers to the title in the INDEX table and information about places where photographs were taken.

This project is dedicated to my father Viktor Odnovyun, who spent more than four years in three different prisons as an asylum-seeker.

To see more images from the project, click here: SURVEILLANCE PROJECT


For any other ways of payment, please do not hesitate to contact me via CONTACT FORM


"SURVEILLANCE. A Typology of Oppression"
© Valentyn Odnoviun

Edition 2020

Photographs: Valentyn Odnoviun
Designer: Gulnara Galiachmetova, Valentyn Odnoviun
Color separation: Raimundas Austinskas
Production supervisor: Daniel Samulevič
Texts: Agnė Narušytė, Jan Gustav Fiedler
Proof reading: Patrick Murphy, Lynn Odnovyun

Book size: 24.5x20 cm (9.65x7.87 inches)   |   images: 54   |   pages: 128   |   edition: 450 copies

Published by ARTPRINT

Co-publisher Lithuanian Culture Research Institute

Printed in Lithuania
ISBN 978-609-95181-9-0


Online articles about the project:

Laura Mallonee for WIRED.com: "Think These Are Planets? The're Something Far More Sinister"

Jim Casper for lensculture.com: "A typology of abstract images leads to a visual meditation about surveillance, control and state security"


As the author of the project "Surveillance" I am very grateful to the publisher ARTPRINT, Gulnara Galiachmetova who helped me throughout the process of shaping the project into the form of a book, and Daniel Samulevič for production supervision; Lithuanian Culture Research Institute and to the director of the LCRI, Rasius Makselis, for co-funding this publication; Agnė Narušytė, for creating the essay about the project and for the continuous support in my beginnings in the field of art; Jan Gustav Fiedler, for curatorship of my exhibitions internationally and the text written specially for this book; Patrick Murphy, for editing texts for this book and for many hours spent in conversations about philosophy and photography; Lynn Odnovyun for proof reading; Raimundas Austinskas for color separation and preparing photographs for printing.

For the help in reaching the actual former political prisons and gathering information about them:
Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights (Vilnius, Lithuania);
— Burning Conscience — permanent exhibition on the resistance of the people of Cesis District to the Soviet and Nazi occupations (Cesis, Latvia);
Museum of the Occupation of Latvia 1940-1991 (Riga, Latvia);
National Museum-Memorial of Victims of the Occupation Regimes "Lontsky Street Prison" (Lviv, Ukraine);
Gedenkstätte Berlin-Hohenschönhausen (Berlin, Germany);
Estonian Institute of Historical Memory (Tallinn, Estonia);
Institute of National Remembrance (Poznan, Warsaw, Poland);
— Museum of Doomed Soldiers and Political Prisoners of the Polish People’s Republic (Warsaw, Poland).

Also, I would like to express my appreciation to professor Alvydas Lukys for his invaluable impact on my development as an artist, Margaryta Zubrii for help and support during creation of the latest projects, Rucka Artist Residency and Ieva Dreibante, Docking Station Residency team and the experts I met during the residency, Iris Sikking, Ksenia Nouril, Elīna Kalniņa, Aija Abene, Ruslan Zabily, Eugenijus Peikštenis, Bogumiła Berdychowska, André Kockisch, Gert Rahnel, Rafał Michliński and Evaldas Rimšelis.


Supported by Lithuanian Council for Culture: