Sparks: Ukrainian Servicemen in a Series by Wiktoria Wojciechowska
Polish photographer and visual artist. Graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Received numerous awards, including the Oskar Barnack Leica Newcomer Award, Photo Diploma Award, Art Griffin Space, and Lensculture Emerging Talent Awards. Published her work in British Journal of Photography, L’Oeil de la Photographie, Vice, Leica Fotografie International, FT Weekend Magazine, Guardian, and many other media outlets.
— The aim of this project was to meet people who are fighting the war in Ukraine, and who are the victims of it. I wanted to show that this kind of situation may happen in other countries as well, and make viewers identify with protagonists of Sparks. I took the portraits while I was talking with soldiers, they were telling me about their experiences, motivations, doubts, and the current situation. The project also contains a lot of other different materials; for example, I am using files from mobile phones of soldiers, which they gave me.
It is obvious for me, that when you see that tragedy of people is happening close by, you want to talk about it. My language to talk about important things is art, usually photography and video.
I was working on Sparks during one and a half year, between winter 2014 and spring 2016. I visited Lviv, Kyiv, Kramatorsk, Drohobych, Peremyshliany, areas of war zone: Sloviansk, Lysychansk, Artemivsk, Hirske, Semenivka, Makiivka, Mironowskiy, Avdiivka and many places in-between. I think the war itself was the most shocking. I didn’t expect, like my friends and family, that we will have war in Europe again. War brings only horrible things, the most shocking of them are indescribable.
The people in the photographs are astronomers, mechanics, builders, shop assistants, students of different departments and universities, civil servants, economists, cooks, engineers, bartenders, philosophers, workers, bank assistants, security guards, journalists, drivers, artists, managers, electricians, businessmen, carpenters, programmers, there is one music dj and one coach of extreme sports, one stoneworker. What connects them all is that they became soldiers when the war started. They joined voluntary battalions or were mobilized by the country.
I think any gesture, which makes people more conscious about the world’s situation, is worthy. Anyway, you can decide the project’s importance by yourself.