Photo project

Live Fast, Die Young No More

Marysia Myanovska's older brother was the embodiment of the first generation of youth in independent Ukraine — already free, but still too confused. When he died, the photographer decided to find out how his story was shaped by time and place, and how his generation influenced modern youth.
Marysia Myanovska

Ukrainian photographer. Studied at the School of Contemporary Photography of Viktor Marushchenko. In 2021, she became a co-author of the conceptual art book "The Psalm of Aviation" by Serhiy Zhadan. Winner of the EU Neighborhood East photo contest 2023 in the category for Ukrainian photographers. Participant in group exhibitions in Italy, Austria, Germany, and Ukraine. Lives and works between Kyiv and Krakow.

— I was born and raised on Troieshchyna, the largest residential district in Europe. I remember it like this: broken street lamps, drunks sleeping in booths, someone was killed, someone died of AIDS. When I was 14 years old, I used to hang out in the city center with teenagers from other districts. Most of them lived in a parallel world. And when I said that I was from Troieshchyna, it meant that I was from a hole.

Today, the district is of course not the same. And now I live on the right bank of the city. But I have an apartment in Troieshchyna and sometimes spend months there because I miss my district.

I work on projects based on personal experience. I look for what connects me to the theme and characters. Now I am studying the archives and the history of my own family, often turning to the past of my loved ones and reflecting on it. For the past four years, I have been exploring the influence of time and place on a person’s fate. I use my own memories of my brother, archival materials, memories of friends and people who grew up with him.

My older brother was the embodiment of the first generation of youth in independent Ukraine. Racketeering, heroin chic, MTV, sex, the first wave of techno. Live fast, die young. I observed his life and the generation that is referred to as lost. I heard many stories from my brother and saw much with my own eyes. Due to a significant age difference, I didn’t always understand his way of life. In 2018, my brother passed away.

My brother embodies independent Ukraine’s first youth generation – racketeering, heroin chic, MTV, sex, and the first wave of techno.

I started filming this project during Valery Miloserdov’s course on photography. A year had passed since my brother’s death, and then I dared to look into my own darkness and ask: what actually happened? who was my brother? who was he to me? why did he live such a life? why did I sometimes want to walk in his shoes? After shooting the first frames, I showed them to Valery. He said I hit the mark. But I already felt it. Since then, I know what happens inside when you hit the mark.

I wanted to create a photographic story about my brother, but then the war intervened. The project transformed: the focus naturally expanded from a personal story to the story of a generation experiencing a historic moment.

My teacher Viktor Marushchenko once said that any art is born out of trauma. I agree with him, which is why I returned to Kyiv during the war – to have a shared trauma with my country. I realized that the experience that young people are going through now is more important than anything else. And I was fortunate to witness the changes in my Troieschyna, my city, my friends. I was at the epicenter, and all that was needed was to continue my research, just in new conditions.

I returned to Kyiv during the war – to have a shared trauma with my country.

Therefore, by portraying fragments of my brother’s biography, I explore how the youth has changed from the time of Ukraine’s independence to the fight for it during Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine.

I would really like us to stop stigmatizing drug addiction and criminality among young people and understand the context. Each generation has its own trials. In my brother’s generation, it was the fall of the Iron Curtain, the destruction of life’s landmarks, and such freedom of choice that they didn’t know what to do with their lives.

I would really like us to stop stigmatizing drug addiction and criminality among young people and to understand the context.

Today, Ukrainian youth is going through war. But we already have the experience of the previous generation behind us. And we know what we are fighting for and what to do with our freedom. In many ways, we owe these knowledge to our brothers and sisters. Like my brother. His name was Valeriy “Mian” Myanovskyi.

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