Project

Home Sweet Home: Brighton Beach in the Ulyana Bazar’s Project

An immigrant from Ukraine came to New York to check out Little Odesa, met her compatriots and stayed in their apartment as a guest reminiscing about home


Ulyana Bazar, 28 years old

Born in Ternopil (Ukraine), currently lives in Santa Cruz, California. Works as a photo editor for National Geographic. She is into documentary photography and poetry. Since 2011 she has been displaying her works in American photo art galleries.

After graduating from university in Washington, I began thinking about starting my own projects and decided to catch the lives of the Ukrainian community in America. I recalled Brighton Beach – Little Odesa in New York that has been known for many years – and decided to check out this little island of the Soviet Union with my own eyes.

After five years of living in the United States I fully integrated into American culture and contact with my native land 3,000 miles away definitely made an impression on me. Brighton Beach is not merely a row of stores where everything is in Russian. I felt that I was back in Ukraine. People that live in Brighton do not even try to assimilate. They brought their native land there and do not want to let it go. Residents of Little Odesa go to the local bathhouse, play cards on the beach and hold christening rituals in the ocean.

It was in Brighton Beach that I understood one thing: no matter how much you try to change yourself, you still remain erstwhile. Locals immediately understood that I am one of theirs – namely, a migrant from Ukraine. Although it was difficult for me to respond in Russian seeing as I think in English, they could tell perfectly well where I am from. I felt as though it was written on my forehead that I am from Ukraine.


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/bazaar_01.jpg”, “alt”: “Photo by Ulyana Bazar. From the Little Odesa series.”, “text”: “Photo by Ulyana Bazar. From the Little Odesa series.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/bazaar_02.jpg”, “alt”: “Photo by Ulyana Bazar. From the Little Odesa series.”, “text”: “Photo by Ulyana Bazar. From the Little Odesa series.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/bazaar_03.jpg”, “alt”: “Photo by Ulyana Bazar. From the Little Odesa series.”, “text”: “Photo by Ulyana Bazar. From the Little Odesa series.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/bazaar_04.jpg”, “alt”: “Photo by Ulyana Bazar. From the Little Odesa series.”, “text”: “Photo by Ulyana Bazar. From the Little Odesa series.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/bazaar_05.jpg”, “alt”: “Photo by Ulyana Bazar. From the Little Odesa series.”, “text”: “Photo by Ulyana Bazar. From the Little Odesa series.”}

One time in the evening I was walking along the boardwalk and my attention was drawn to local immigrants from Odesa and tourists dancing to a song by Alla Pugacheva. I stopped next to two women speaking Ukrainian and tried to understand what they were saying amidst the din. I recognized the native western Ukrainian dialect. We got acquainted and I failed to recollect how I ended up as a guest in their small house that they shared with another four immigrants. They did not even want to hear that I have already lived in the U.S. for five years and feel that it is my home – for them I am a Ukrainian one way or another.


{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/bazaar_06.jpg”, “alt”: “Photo by Ulyana Bazar. From the Little Odesa series.”, “text”: “Photo by Ulyana Bazar. From the Little Odesa series.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/bazaar_07.jpg”, “alt”: “Photo by Ulyana Bazar. From the Little Odesa series.”, “text”: “Photo by Ulyana Bazar. From the Little Odesa series.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/bazaar_08.jpg”, “alt”: “Photo by Ulyana Bazar. From the Little Odesa series.”, “text”: “Photo by Ulyana Bazar. From the Little Odesa series.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/bazaar_09.jpg”, “alt”: “Photo by Ulyana Bazar. From the Little Odesa series.”, “text”: “Photo by Ulyana Bazar. From the Little Odesa series.”}

Their names were Zhenya and Lesya and they were around the age of 50. They came to America to make money and lived very humbly in order to send most of their earnings to their families in Ukraine. These women, as many immigrants here, live in two parallel worlds: in body they are here, in spirit they are in Ukraine together with their relatives and close ones. We gabbled for practically all night long, they treated me to a homemade meal and we drank vodka and Ukrainian wine. In the end, they convinced me to stay the night, but I could not fall asleep for a long time thinking that I am sleeping in the home of people that I have met for the first time. I managed to break away from the wonderful hospitality that our people have preserved even thousands of miles away from home.

New and best

325

543

354
178

Read more