Photography in it’s nature is capturing light. This makes photography as an art form particularly essential in the dark times we are experiencing today. Our mission as a cultural institution is to support artists, to ensure that their voice is heard, to bear witness to the state of the world with all its colors. With a war raging a few hundred kilometers from Estonia, on the territory of Ukraine, we turn our gaze toward the Ukrainian photographers. We have decided to highlight 7 artists from Ukraine, 7 women and men, of different age, practice and backgrounds at a time in their lives when they are confronted by violence. Through photography and written word they tell us about their relation to this war, about their daily life, their fears, their sorrows, but also their hopes for the future. We would like to thank them all very much for taking the time, sometimes under very difficult conditions, to make this project with Fotografiska Tallinn. This project is done in collaboration with Eric Schlosser, Art Director of the Tbilisi Art Fair. He has been curating and organizing a large number of international photo and contemporary art projects for more than 15 years, including with the photographic scene of Ukraine.
Together, we are happy to introduce you to the works of Dimitri Bogachuk, Arthur Bondar, Vita Buivid, Lisa Bukreyeva, Diana Fedoriaka, Alena Grom, and Xenia Petrovska. Do not hesitate to take a closer look at their artistic practice by browsing the links to their sites.
The purpose of art sales is charity, and the sales revenue is used to support photographers
Näitusetööd on signeeritud dateeritud ja kõiki fotosid müüme 30nese tiraažiga suuruses 40x52cm. Fotoprint tuleb koos paspartuuga lõppviimistlusega ning võimalus on tellida töö koos musta või valge raamiga.
My work is based on feelings that are inside of me. When I spend time in Dunkirk, I don’t want to photograph the places that show historic parts of the city. I just want to show a beach out of time, that saw everything before this very moment. When I will visit Bucha, next to my hometown, I don’t want to show destroyed building, I just want to show something inside me, silence, nostalgia. We are all tired now.
I could compare my practice with the art of haiku At the battlefield Long kept the earth Rusty cartridge case An old silent pond A frog jumps into the pond— Splash! Silence again. I do not plan projects, I work with beautiful light and interesting landscapes. My approach is very easy. I take my camera with me everywhere Today, my wife, 2 young kids and I are refugees. When the war started my dear friend let us live in her home in Khmelnytskyi. Our city was being bombed. Few days before the war, I returned from Sweden, after visiting Fotografiska Museum. I just had Ian exhibition in Berlin, I’m trying to work and participate in activities that raise money for Ukraine. But it’s not enough. And the bombs are still falling on Ukraine, every minute of every hour. All Ukrainians are in now in limbo. I made those pictures in march.
In my photographs I like to create an atmosphere with something that is not visible to the human eye. Some efforts and manipulations can reveal a magical or metaphorical sense. With the dreamlike and mysterious scenes of my native village I work with the concept of home and belonging. My street photographies captures passers-by in a solitary state, a moment of human presence which is not violated by anyone else.
When the war started, I was in Germany. I planned to go home in March but now I have no idea when I will be able to come back. My whole family and friends are in Ukraine and I'm extremely worried about all of them. I feel a terrible pain looking at what is happening in my country. The awareness of this brutal injustice causes a great disappointment and a complete inability to understand our future. From time to time these pain and anger turn into a bottomless sorrow for my country. Every morning starts in the same way: I take my phone and text my family and friends those simple words :"How are you?". When I see that they are online, it makes me truly happy. On Sundays, I go to demonstrations here, in Germany, where I meet a lot of kind people who are ready to help Ukrainians in those dark times. I haven't made any new pictures, I'm stuck in uncertainty.
On February 24, 2024, I woke up early in the morning, made coffee and turned on the song « Chornobrivtsi" (marigolds). February 24 is my mother's birthday. She passed away 4 years ago. This was her favorite song. And her favorite flowers. They are now blossoming on my balcony in Amsterdam. I listened to the song, drank coffee, and thought about my mother - Lydia Pavlovna Titarenko, born in Ukraine. We had planned with our family to have a small dinner in her honor and get together online. It’s when I opened Facebook to speak with my older sister that I learned the war had begun. For a long time I tried to reach her in Dnepropetrovsk. I then tried to persuade her and her husband to move to Holland. They refused. They wanted to stay at home
It's hard for me to talk about my works now. Everything seems to be worthless. Especially after Bucha. My work never was documentary. Just my thoughts and feelings about reality. I had a premonition of war for a very long time. Maybe because the war topic has always been present in my life: my parents survived the Second World War. My father and grandfather fought at the front, and my mother and grandmother survived the German occupation. They also survived the Holodomor, the great famine in Ukraine. Maybe it is this generational trauma that manifests itself in my work. I made the first series of works with a military theme in 1996, « Girl and soldier ». In 2007, I worked on the « Morning in a Pine Forest » series, which has a nuclear war theme. In 2008 I made the series presented here, "How I Spent My Summer". It is based on photographs that I took as a child in a pioneer camp in the village of Ivano-Mikhailovka near Dnepropetrovsk. My mother and sister came to visit me and brought the camera. It was a trophy Zeiss brought back from the war by my grandfather. “Eigentum der Luftwaffe” was written in the case. My grandparents never spoke to me about the war. My pictures were never printed. My father found them not good enough. But, my sister kept the negatives and presented them to me for my 45th birthday. I scanned those frames, printed them in very large size on satin and began to paint with oil on them. It turned out too pretty. So I went for a walk with my dog. Strangely, I did not meet a single person during the walk. How was this possible in Moscow, in a densely populated area? That day I got a strong feeling that there would be a war. I did more prints on satin - found various military operations pictures online and sewed them into my beautiful childhood memories. I wish I didn't! The war began in Ossetia, and I thought my work had something to do with that war. But now, it turned out that that was not the case. But who could have imagined that Russia would start a war with Ukraine? How is this possible? In 2014, Donbass began. That day I made the installation "Comfort food". I just nailed cherry dumplings to the wall in my apartment. Cherry juice, very similar to blood, started dripping. In another series, "For external use », I used real blood and tears, milk, snot and semen and urine and bile. All human liquids…Now I can't do anything. My psyche is torn from my own helplessness and uselessness. There is no way I can help my sister or my friends in Ukraine. I cannot help my friends in Russia, who are clearly in danger of repressions. I have been living in Holland for three years now, a safe space. Of course, all of us here are trying to do at least something: help refugees, transfer funds to help Ukraine, participate in protests. But it's so tiny, so limited, and it hurts so much. And it is impossible to compare this pain with the one that Ukrainians are experiencing now. It's genocide. It's fucking War!
When I was a kid, I dreamed of a superpower: I wanted to take pictures when I blinked. That way, everything I’m seeing in that moment would be in a picture. I never had this superpower, so I bought cameras.
I mostly shoot street and documentary photography. It is important for me to establish a connection between people and the environment in which we are. If in the end, the photo reflects the time in which the author lives, it’s especially valuable to me.
I started the war diary on the very first day the war started.
Diana Fedoriaka sündis 1999. aastal. Ta alustas lühifilmide ning muusikavideodega, õpingute käigus MYPH koolis mõistis aga, et tema tõeline kirg on fotograafia. Diana esimene piltide seeria “My naked friends” on statement noorte At the end of summer 2021, I got a job offer in Qatar and temporary move there to work. I was homesick the whole time and was counting the days. In April, I was supposed to be back.
I was making huge plans, a book with my projects, my documentary film, a few exhibitions in Kharkiv, reunions with my friends and colleagues, a project in Chernobyl and that’s only a shortlist.A few hours before the war started I was talking with my fiancé, making plans to go to Kharkiv, Carpathian mountains and Lviv, renovate our house and start to grow our own food in the garden. Throughout that whole night, I remember waking up constantly because of messages that kept coming, so I shut my phone down. When I woke up, I was in shock, the war had started. I didn’t have any tears for a whole week. I just couldn’t reflect. I was just trying to help, I was checking on everyone. The scariest part was to realize that everyone I love is in a constant danger. A few weeks after, I asked something about my dad in our family chat, and realized my mum kept from me that he joined the army, for a reason unknown to me. But I am proud of him and he’s my hero. I know that my family would never leave their home, even if they are in danger no matter how strong I would beg them to.
Before Russia started a war in my country I was working on my new project about the perception of beauty, but now all of my thoughts and attention are with Ukrainian people. I want to speak about the horrors of the Russian invasion through my art and I’m now trying to figure out the way to do it. I know that victory is inevitable, we know what freedom is and we are united and fearless! In the near future, I plan to go home, help to rebuild and make my country even stronger than it was before. Glory to Ukraine!
I was born and lived in Donetsk. I celebrated a housewarming in a new house, the construction of which took 5 years in January 2014. In April 2014 my family and I were forced to leave our home and city due to Russian aggression in the Donbass.
However, having left my hometown physically, I did not leave it emotionally. Donbass became a daily military chronicle, with killed and wounded persons counted every day. My house was robbed and shot. Many relatives could not leave from the city for various reasons and were in constant danger, 2 of them were captured and eventually saved. For several years I was under constant stress, adapting to a new place was long and painful. Photography became a for me a way to get away from the traumatic reality. The internal monologue turned into a dialogue with society and times. The trips to the military zone became a logical continuation of my work. I shifted my focus from my tragedy to the people who were in worse situations, inviting people living in peaceful areas to hear and about those who live in war.I was careful in showing the first projects. Attracting public attention would compromise my relatives and people close to me who remained in the occupied territories. There was a risk that they would be persecuted because of my statements. Only after I managed to evacuate my relatives and friends, I was able to show my work with more confidence. Life slowly improved. We built a new house in the city of Bucha in 2017. It took a long time to choose a place for construction. I liked this city because it is located in a pine forest near Kiev. We called called this clean, beautiful city “Little Europe”. Since the beginning of Russia's aggression in the Donbass, society has grown tired of military topics. People living in peaceful territories have ceased to notice the threat. I tried to constantly raise this topic with my projects. I warned society that the war was nearby, that it was continuing. As a result of the full-scale invasion of Russia in February 2022, my family and I became refugees for the second time. The city has been liberated, but we cannot return because the infrastructures are destroyed, the territory is mined, and I don’t know if my house is still standing. I can't fully realize that my quiet cozy town is now synonym of massacres and genocide, just like Khatyn, Srebrenica or Auschwitz. Now my family and I live in western Ukraine in the city of Uzhhorod. From the first days of the Russian invasion, I have been recording the stories of refugees who miraculously escaped from hell. I took photos of them at the train station, at the junction of destinies, times and worlds. In a few days I am planning to return to Bucha to document Russia's crimes against my people. In my work about war, the protagonist is not a warrior, or a victorious hero, there is no depiction of heroic battles, there is just people who are able to withstand the war. It is not about pity or grief, it is a proof of life. Against all odds. Although my works are at the intersection of conceptual photography and documentary, the idea prevails over the form, and aesthetics are secondary. I feel responsible as an artist to testify for those who became victims of the war.
From the very first moment I took a camera in my hand I felt some kind of magic. For me photography is really a unique and individual language easy to understand for everybody. I try to tell personal stories shooting with black & white / color film, digital and experimenting with different kinds of media. I have been always interested in photography that was on the edge of contemporary art and documentary photography.
Nowadays, the subject becomes more and more important. For the last 7 years I have worked a lot with archives and historical events, collective and private memories. I moved to Moscow in 2012 because of my wife. I always traveled back and forth to cover different stories and events both in Ukraine and Russia, including Maidan, Crimea and Donbass. Today we have a full scale war between Russia and Ukraine. A week before the war started I covered the situation along the border, and at that time nobody believed in the possibility of a real war. Early morning 24th of February 2022, we were all in shock, and we still are. When my wife called me early that morning I was in a train heading back to Moscow. Our parents still in Ukraine, under the shells. We were feeling helpless and devastated, but we understood that we needed to provide medicine and food for our parents. So we did it and keep doing it with the help of volunteers, friends and kind people. Each day starts and ends with a call to our parents, to see if they are ok. Many of our friends fled from Russia not to be drafted or scared of the uncertain future here. Many international media left the country since the criminal law about fake and discrediting news about the Russian army. I continue working, but the job of photojournalist has become dangerous and nearly impossible.