Brotherland: War in Ukraine
April 2014 - present
Since protests in Kyiv drove President Viktor Yanukovych from power in February 2014, eastern Ukraine has been convulsed by a Russian-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 five years, the war grinds on, stuck in an uneasy stalemate while delivering a steady stream of death and injury. For civilians living near the demarcation line, 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, revealing the remarkable human ability to adapt and carry on.
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 consider that the vast majority of people touched by this war, civilians and soldiers alike, on all sides, are victims whose lives have been irreversibly altered by forces beyond their control – forces that, as in all wars, originate with a deliberate choice to kill. My pictures also emphasize the inherent absurdity of armed conflict: the shock of the unimaginable juxtaposed with the utterly mundane.
The difficult truth is that if war can happen in Donbas, it can happen anywhere.
A 40-page self-published newspaper and exhibition catalog of photographs from the war in eastern Ukraine, taken between 2014 and 2017.
21cm x 28cm (folded), 28cm x 42cm (unfolded).
Edition of 2000 (Ukrainian language).
An exhibition of my long-term project Brotherland: War in Ukraine will be on view at Zaporizhzhia National University in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, starting March 22.