Brotherland: War in Ukraine
April 2014 - present
Traveling exhibition consisting of 26 photographs, three 360º videos, and a self-published newspaper.
Currently on view: Sumy City Gallery
Since protests in Kyiv drove President Viktor Yanukovych from power in February 2014, eastern Ukraine has been convulsed by a Russia-backed separatist insurgency that evolved into a full-fledged war centered in the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, an industrial region known as Donbas.
I’ve been photographing the war, and civilian life surrounding it, since its early days in April 2014, one of very few photographers to have continually worked on both sides.
Now, after more than four years, the war grinds on, stuck in an uneasy stalemate while delivering a steady stream of death and injury. For civilians living near the line of contact, conflict is like the weather, an uncontrollable condition of the environment with which one must contend daily. Everyone continues their business as best they can with a practiced sense of normalcy.
For soldiers, enthusiasm for the cause, whether fueled by propaganda or patriotism, is tempered by the toil and terror of survival.
My portrayal takes a humanistic perspective to posit that the vast majority of people touched by this war, civilians and soldiers alike, on all sides, are victims, and emphasizes the inherent absurdity of armed conflict: the shock of the unimaginable juxtaposed with the utterly mundane.
If anything is clear, it is that war is real, and it can happen anywhere.