Winner of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award Newcomer 2017 is Sergey Melnitchenko for his series „Behind the Scenes.“ He receives 10,000 euros and a Leica M camera and lens.
Virtually no photographer has got as close to the dancers at a Chinese club as the Ukrainian Sergey Melnitchenko. He was with them backstage, offering rare insight into life in the cheap entertainment business. His own experience as a dancer served him well. With great sensitivity, the images reveal the reality of a tough profession despite its frolicsome appearance under the spotlight.
Somewhere in China, at the crack of dawn after a long night’s work: sweating transvestites, girls in baths full of beer, drunk performers and an even larger number of drunks among the audience. Battered legs, feet worn down from dancing, fish-net stockings, the harsh light of the dressing room. Scratches and scars, many made invisible by the fact that they are engraved on the soul: all part of daily life in the cheap entertainment business for tourists and locals in China – though it could be anywhere, in fact. To deliver this kind of insight, it is not enough to be up close. Like Sergey Melnitchenko, you need to be part of the whole scene. His pictures reveal his experience as a dancer, grimy and in your face.