Photo project

Work Just Steps Away

Oleksandr from Kyiv lost his housing many years ago and now lives in the entrance hall. He decorates his home and workplace and fills them with books, making the entrance hall special. Oleksandr's neighbor, photographer and artist Regina Bukvich, captured the everyday life of the man and shared his story with Bird in Flight.
Regina Bukvich

She completed a course in conceptual photography at Viktor Marushchenko School and received training at MYPH School of Photography. She is a member of the 5.6 photo club.

Photographer Regina Bukvich moved to a nine-story apartment building on Lesya Ukrainka Boulevard in Kyiv last year. She immediately noticed the paintings, posters, toys, vases, and figurines that adorned the entrance hall. It turned out that they were brought in by a 55-year-old concierge named Oleksandr. And later, something else came to light: he works without days off and never leaves his workplace since he practically lives there. He doesn’t have his own home, so the small room on the ground floor of the building became his living space.

Previously, Oleksandr lived in Berezniaky. When his brother passed away, their shared apartment was transferred to the widow. Oleksandr says he didn’t want to fight her in court, especially since the apartment was quickly sold. He only has an older cousin left, but he lives in a small house where there is no space for another person.

For the past 15 years, Oleksandr has worked as a janitor. Initially, he lived in temporary housing provided by the housing maintenance office (ЖЕК). After 10 years, he hoped to receive his own apartment from the government, and he had all the chances to do so (as prescribed by the law). However, he was denied housing, explaining that the building where he had the right to an apartment was transferred to another housing maintenance office.

Today, Oleksandr lives in the entrance hall, where he also sleeps on a sofa and cooks on a stove. He washes up in the basement, where a water heater is located. The residents of the building pay him a small wage, but it is not much. Once, the housing maintenance office workers tried to evict him, but the residents stood up in his defense.

Therefore, Regina got to know Oleksandr and wanted to take photos with him. To gain his trust, she chose instant photography so that she could show the results to him immediately. At first, Oleksandr didn’t want to be photographed, but later he started posing and suggesting ideas for the photos himself. The project became important for him as well.

Currently, Oleksandr is preparing for his visit to the military enlistment office. Long ago, he injured the ligaments in his legs and worries that he won’t be able to serve in combat. However, he hopes that he will at least be assigned to guard a certain facility. He emphasizes that it’s not for the sake of housing; he has grown fond of his entrance hall and workplace, considering them his home, which is why he decorates them. Oleksandr describes his job as a constant retreat compared to the work of soldiers and volunteers.

Oleksandr has grown fond of his entrance hall and workplace, considering them his home, which is why he decorates them.

Regina hopes to release an art book featuring original photographs and possibly a limited edition series of books about Oleksandr.

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