Photo project

The Festive Funeral of Rome

Soon after Crimea's annexation by the Russian Federation, photographer Roman Piatkovka created a photo project about empires’ decay. It turned out that his work is even more relevant today than at the moment of its publishing.
Роман Пятковка
Roman Piatkovka

Photographer, lecturer, and curator. One of the founders of the National Photographers Association of Ukraine and coordinator of the Ukrainian Photography Association creative union. Winner of the Sony World Photography Awards in 2013. Participant in personal and group exhibitions around the world.

— The Third Rome series was created in 2015. It was my response to the annexation of Crimea. I needed time to comprehend everything that happened. It didn’t take me long to create the series, and then I laughed a lot because of how repulsive those images were. But I was laughing through tears.

People always wonder why do empires fall. I think that the Russian empire will fall soon. Nothing leads a herd better than hunger and the horrors of war. The decay of empires comes along with cataclysms. We were the first to suffer. But our neighbors will soon feel the same.

These photos depict travesty actors. The images work on many levels, including criticism of homophobia in Russia, impersonation of someone who’s not you, etc. Ukrainian irony, palpable in this series, makes it quite accurate. Look at how Ukrainian people deal with the horrors that surround them — with humor and self-irony. I haven’t seen anything like this in Russian news — they are all so dark.

Ukrainian irony, palpable in this series, makes it quite accurate.

When the full-scale invasion began, I went to an art bomb shelter in Kharkiv. It’s located in YermilovCenter, in a basement. Together with Pavlo Makov, Kostiantyn Zorkin, and Roman Minin we spent a week there. We played guitars, sang Ukrainian songs, and taught kids to draw. It was weird: we knew that terrible things were going on, and yet our unity felt like bliss.”

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