Documentary photography

This was my first photographic work. I went to my home town Luhansk to visit my grandmother in summer 2018. At that time it was already a contested territory called LNR (Luhansk People’s Republic). This trip was the last time I saw my grandmother alive and the last trip home. It was also the last time I could have a normal conversation to my family members living in Luhansk. Since the beginning of the full-scale russian invasion in 2022 we are politically deeply divided.

Luhansk, a city in East Ukraine has had a troubled political identity, since Ukraine gained its independence from the Soviet Union. The city’s extreme proximity to the Ukrainian-Russian border, heavy Soviet legacy, Russian aggressive propaganda and inner divisions within the Ukrainian society, and politicisation of those divisions have been some of the factors that shaped Luhansk. In 2014, it ceased to be a Ukrainian city and became a self-proclaimed republic, run by pro-Russian and Russian ultra-nationalist groups.

In this trip I am learning to photograph. It is challenging to hold my analog camera steady. On one hand, I am nervous to take photos in public. I have yet to experience how to move with a camera, how to carry it (it is stupid to hang it around my neck) or how to approach a situation. I cannot see photos I am taking, so that is a relief not to have to judge myself.

At the same time, I think I am imitating some photos I have seen before. Some compositions that I saw — these early, superficial influences. Does it even make sense to start photographing at the age of 30? At the same time I feel free and curious, inspired, and I photograph everything I can.

Exhibition views. Photos were presented in form of pages from a family album.