We be of one blood
Photographer from Kharkiv. He started his career as a photojournalist, his photos were featured in Forbes, National Geographic, The Guardian, Le Monde, and Wirtschafts Wochesince. In his artistic practice, he explores the borders between public and private spaces, computer algorithms and their impact on photography. His works were exhibited in Galerie Claude Samuel (Paris), Ukrainian Museum (New York), Ukrainian Cultural Centre (Los Angeles), EEP Berlin, La Quatrieme Image (Paris), Odesa// Batumi, Hybrid Festival (Madrid), and at other festivals and galleries.
— About ten years ago I worked on a project called Daily Lives, documenting how people co-exist in shared spaces. I lived with friends, with girls, and took pictures of their daily lives. At that time, I was interested in the notions of personal space, homelife, sexuality, and borders between people. I took the majority of photos in Kharkiv, but some were taken during my travels with friends.
When the full-scale invasion started, I left my home and went to Lviv. I lived in a house with other displaced people for the first couple of days. That’s when I got back to documenting people’s shared living, but the context changed dramatically. I switched flats and kept taking pictures of my temporary homes and other apartments, shelters, and houses for displaced people. I felt closely connected to the people in the photos — we had the same experience of leaving our homes and moving into temporary spaces in other cities. For one thing, this is a very personal story, but it is also a typical story about many people, who are forced to start over in life.
I felt closely connected to the people in the photos — we had the same experience of leaving our homes and moving into temporary spaces in other cities.
At first, I took pictures of my friends. Lviv hosted a lot of people from Kharkiv, so I would come by and spend some time with them, documenting their lives. Seeing your friends, who escaped shelling, is a ground-breaking experience. I ran into some of them accidentally on the streets; other times, our mutual friends told me that they were in the city.
After a while, I started taking pictures of friends of my friends or going to shelters where I knew no one. I used to come by every day and eventually I got to know many people there. I keep in touch with quite of few of them to this day. These people have totally different interests and backgrounds, and we would hardly be friends if not for the war that brought us together.
These people have totally different interests and backgrounds, and we would hardly be friends if not for the war that brought us together.
They are used to having cameras around and they pay no attention at me while I shoot. Before the invasion, I would have had to live with people for a while to achieve that but now things have changed. People simultaneously feel close to each other — united by mutual experience — and far away, deep in thought and grieving.
During the five months that I’ve been shooting the project, I heard many different stories. I met large families, whose houses were destroyed, students, who had to deal both with the war and their university exams, and even former prisoners.
I remember an evening that I spent in one of my first temporary homes. More and more people moved in there every day. There was a young family from Kharkiv, a theater actress Katia and her husband, a director, who played with their kids. The kids found toys in the house — soldiers, tanks, airplanes. One of the kids said: “And now you’ll be bombed!”. It sounded eerie, but his mom replied calmly: “No bombs for today, okay”.
One of the kids said: “And now you’ll be bombed!”. It sounded eerie, but his mom replied calmly: “No bombs for today, okay”.
I think that I already have enough material, but I keep taking pictures from time to time. Telling the stories of displaced people helps me to understand myself better. I would like to document how these people go back to their homes, but it might take a while.
Before the full-scale war, I was getting more and more interested in experiments with photography language, digital algorithms, and our perception of images. But now I’m taking a step back to the documentary. Telling the stories of people, whose life is altered by the war, seems like the most important thing to me. I have shot only one less documentary project on the first day of the full-scale invasion. It’s a continuation of the Obscure Land series but with a different context, in which I’m leaving my home.
I have a couple of projects, that I’ve done halfway. A lot of them are about displaced people because I feel that it’s my story too. I guess I need some time and space to reflect on all those things. But who has this opportunity now?