Vanishing Island: Crimea As Viewed by Arthur Bondar
Born in Kryvyi Rih, lives in Moscow. Studied documentary photography and human rights at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts in New York City. Winner of US Documentary Project Fund award, Magnum Foundation Human Rights Scholarship, and National Geographic Grant. Participates in the VII Mentor Program, continues working on personal and group projects. Co-founder of Blueframejournal magazine and member of the international team of Raw View Magazine.
Crimea comes from the Turkic word ‘Qırım’ — ‘rampart’, ‘wall’, ‘moat’. The peninsula was called Tavrida until the 1920s. Since ancient times it has been a scene of complicated historical events and a war theater. The peninsula is covered with military facilities, bases, and bunkers. The history of war photography started here, from the photograph known as Valley of the Shadow of Death taken by Roger Fenton during the Crimean War. This land has changed hands multiple times. Tauri, Cimmerians, Greeks, Scythians, Goths, Huns, Romans, Mongols, Armenians, Tatars, Ukrainians, Russians, and many other nationalities — it is easier to list those who haven’t lived there. After the USSR collapsed, the Crimean peninsula became a part of Ukraine as an autonomous republic.
In March 2014, the peninsula was illegally, in terms of international law, annexed by the Russian Federation. In the several following months some of the Ukrainians left Crimea, as they did not want to live in a different country. Ukraine, in its turn, imposed strict restrictions on trade with the peninsula, and the absence of a ground transportation route to Russia is negatively affecting the economy of the peninsula. The environmental situation is also catastrophic. The Black Sea is polluted by garbage, industrial waste, and sewage from big cities. Crimea is living through a very difficult transformation.
Vanishing Island is a story about the transformation of the peninsula and its inhabitants, an attempt to capture the transition of this land from one condition into another.