Bird in Flight Prize '18

Bird in Flight Prize ’18 finalist: Wild Fields

Project of the Polish photographer Michał Sierakowski shortlisted for the Bird in Flight Prize ’18.

Michał Sierakowski, Poland

To give a frame to any structure, one has to create a narration that would divide people onto those taking part and those outside of it. In case of a state, a myth utilises symbols – poets, brave soldiers, progressive industrialisation, magnificence of the landscape. Changes in structure require corresponding changes of myth itself – changes of banners, parts of history and eternal allies.

The project focuses on relations between Ukrainian landscape and the national identity of present Ukraine – constantly changing in a process of shaping the national myth out of various elements of the past. Myth-creating function of heritage, idea of patriotism suspended between modern nationalism and romantic-era backbone, legacy of communism and finally the pantheon of modern heroes – all of these elements, leaving a trace in the landscape and social structure, construct a narrative about contemporary Ukraine, just as unassuming and changing shape as the myth of framework of national structure.

Golden Shukhevych

Fierce revolutionary and fighter for Ukrainian independence Roman Shukhevych was responsible for coordinating terrorist attacks on Polish property and government offices in Galicia and assasination of minister of Polish internal affairs Bronisław Pierecki in 1930s. The intend was to radicalize Ukrainian population into anti-polish sentiment and build up Ukrainian nationalism. This led directly to crude Polish retaliation which included collective punishment and demolition of Ukrainian community centers, libraries, orthodox churches and schools.

Fatherland of Bandera Museum, Staryi Uhryniv, Western Ukraine
Zhenya and Anya

“I always dreamed to move out from Luhansk and go to Kyiv, but I was too lazy to do that. I remember, after the war broke out, I was in a bus going out from occupied territories and separatists stopped us to check our documents. One soldier asked me where am I going. Kyiv - I said and I started thinking that it was a bad idea to say that. So then the next separatist comes to me and asks again where I’m going — to Kharkov, I say. There were antiukrainian protests in Kharkov back then, so I thought that it might be a better answer for them. You just said that you are going to Kyiv?! another guard asked, so I said that, you know, to Kharkov for a few days, then to Kyiv, then may- be Dnipropetrovsk, just a trip around country. That’s ok, they said, when will you come back to Luhansk? In a week or two probably, I said. That was the last time I’ve been in Luhansk.”

Yaroslav and Kuyalnik Estuary

Yaroslav moved to Odessa from Novosibirsk. Being a native Russian its not hard for him to blend in mostly russian-speaking Odessa. ‘I don’t want to and I won’t ever comeback to Novosibirsk. It’s cold, dull and nobody’s smiling there. Odessa is better.’ He doesn’t care if Odessa is Ukrainian or Russian. He just wants to enjoy in peace summer baths in Kuyalnik and Black Sea. Like most of Odessans.

Odessa, Southern Ukraine
Monument to soldiers of 1st Cavalry Army

1st Cavalry Army was a prominent Red Army military formation taking part in Russian Civil War and Polish-Bolshevik war. After World War I soviet propaganda created a myth about legendary strength and invincibility of this unit. In March 2016 what is left of monument of 1st Cavalry Army in Olesko is just iron frame. Copper covering had been all but looted.

Olesko, Lvivska Oblast
Untitled Ukrainian Landscape No. 76

Man herds his sheep around closed and forgotten coal mines, close to the border with Romania.

Solotvyno, Transcarpathia
Untitled Ukrainian Landscape No. 65

Vorokhta, Carpathians
Marx and Lenin

Owners of small glass workshop in Kharkiv built a mini exhibition of monuments, from Ivan Franko to Volodimir Lenin.


“Of course it was scary in Debaltseve. But somebody needed to do the work.” Now working as a police officer in Avdiivka, Ivan fought in Shyrokine and Debaltseve, where he was trapped in a kettle. While showing me shelled buildings in Avdiivka he talks about his family living on occupied territories. He’s from Donetsk oblast too, but he decided to fight for Ukraine. Now he can’t go back home, separatists wouldn’t be very happy to see him.

Avdiivka, Donetsk outskirts

Others project materials

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