Photo project

Wandering in a Dream

Photographer Maryna Brodovska left Ukraine at the beginning of the war. Each time, she found refuge in the homes of new acquaintances throughout Europe. Rooms in apartments, hostels, and art studios became temporary homes for her before returning home. The author captured this experience in her series.
Maryna Brodovska

Photographer from Ukraine. Works with photography, graphic design, and video. Studied at Viktor Marushchenko's school, attended Roman Pyatkovka's course at PhotoCult, and completed the program at Bird in Flight School. Her works are featured in public and private collections in Ukraine, as well as in Paris and New York.

— It has been over six months since the invasion began and I left Kiev. Winter has come again, and it was hard to grasp that the war has been going on for so long, and I am still afraid to return home, which, fortunately, I still have.

I was in an artist residency in Sweden, and at that time, I changed my whereabouts quite often – residencies for artists, apartments, and houses of people I had never known before. I met almost all of them during the war. Every room, every bedroom was a little journey into the world of that person for me.

I felt a strange combination of gratitude, curiosity, and sorrow. And I decided to document this experience for myself. I looked through the photos I took before and found almost all of my sleeping places in the pictures. I thought to myself: I wonder how many more nights like this lie ahead? And where will this strange journey end? I truly hoped it would be at home.

I felt a strange combination of gratitude, curiosity, and sorrow. And I decided to document this experience for myself.

From the beginning, I didn’t have a clear plan of where to go. In fact, I spent the first three nights in the basement of a morgue in Kiev with my friend and her mother, who works there. It was safer there, being a hospital, and we were confident that hospitals wouldn’t be targeted. Then it became clear that it would be better to leave Ukraine for a while.

Basement of the Kiev morgue. Ukraine, February 2022
Children's room. Rivne, Ukraine, February 2022
Living room. Sofia, Bulgaria, March 2022
Art studio and living room. Bansko, Bulgaria, March 2022
Living room. Fårö Island, Sweden, April 2022
Bedroom. Stockholm, Sweden, April 2022

We went to Bulgaria because we had acquaintances there who hosted us and helped us quickly find affordable accommodation. Later, various offers for artist residencies started to appear. And my friend and I thought, why not give it a try? With the onset of the war, I lost my job, had almost no savings, and no idea where and how to live while the war was happening at home. It was unclear in which country I could live and find work, so I decided to travel wherever I was invited.

It was emotionally challenging in remote places with poor connectivity. On the Swedish island of Foro, there was no mobile network and hardly any internet. Although, on one hand, it was difficult when you constantly think that something could happen to your loved ones back home at any second. On the other hand, constantly checking the news and monitoring social media only added to the mental exhaustion.

Guest room. Omalo, Georgia, May 2022
Basement bedroom. Tbilisi, Georgia, June 2022

It was unpleasant to be in Tbilisi amidst the influx of Russians, seeing how they calmly drink wine in cafes, stroll around, talk loudly, and generally behave as if on a vacation at an Egyptian all-inclusive resort. But the Georgians I met – they are incredible people. I am delighted to have such friends now.

New people, cities, and countries are always fascinating. But in any journey, the most pleasant part is returning home. At least, that has always been and will always be the case for me.

But in any journey, the most pleasant part is returning home.

Children's room. Sofia, Bulgaria, June 2022
Guest room. Simrishamn, Sweden, November 2022
Bedroom. Copenhagen, Denmark, December 2022

I vividly remember only one dream — I even made a collage based on it. In the quiet town of Sīmrisshamn in Sweden, I dreamt that I woke up at home from a loud explosion and saw the neighboring house engulfed in flames, collapsing floor by floor. I started to panic, and time accelerated so much that I couldn’t manage to put on anything or gather my belongings. All I kept repeating to myself was, “Don’t forget your passport and keys.”

We all have different experiences during this war, and we often diminish our own emotions because there is always more sorrow than ours. I cannot document the war, nor can I photograph social projects — it is emotionally too challenging for me. I focus on my own experiences and emotions, striving to be as honest as possible with them.

Art helps me cope with the traumatic experience. However, it is gratifying when it resonates with others. It makes me feel that my story also has a place. I desperately wanted my photo series to have a happy ending, with the final photograph showing me on my bed at home. And it happened just like that. The same will happen with the war. One day, we will all find ourselves back in our beds, in our homes, and the war will remain only in our terrifying dreams.

One day, we will all find ourselves back in our beds, in our homes, and the war will remain only in our terrifying dreams.

Bedroom. Bansko, Bulgaria, February 2023
Art gallery. Gorst, Netherlands, April 2023
Storage room of the art gallery. Gorst, Netherlands, April 2023
Dorm room in a hostel. Amsterdam, Netherlands, April 2023
Bedroom. Venice, Italy, May 2023
Bedroom. Yuzhnoukrainsk, Ukraine, May 2023

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