17 March 2022 [refers to the events on February 24]  — Alina Lazarevskaya: It is like when you wake up to some explosions, but you don’t know what they are. These are not firecrackers or fireworks. These are some other sounds, and they are serious. And you realize that it is like in that painting of the family sleeping and the fighter jets flying outside the window. And you realize that the war has started, and you’re in Charkiw, very close to Russia. You don’t know what to do. You can’t run, there’s nowhere to go, it’s everywhere, you hear these explosions all the time, they are frequent, they are constant, and you need to hide your children somewhere, to save them.

5 March 2022 – Yuliia Poplavska: I have never been afraid in my entire life that I wouldn’t get on this train!! The crowd is insane, as if people were fighting for the last lifeboats!!!!! Even adults were yowling!!! Horrifying. I am sending you photos I have been taking for myself.

For over a year, 2022 – 2023, I was in contact almost daily with around thirty Ukrainians: friends, ordinary citizens, military volunteers, soldiers. We exchanged messages, news and resources. People documented their own lives in different circumstances: fleeing, returning, and living under the occupation.

Archive: In photos, the survivors were sending to me, they represented themselves and the war. They resolved the problem of irrepresentability of war in their own ways, verbally and photographically. My aim was to communicate to people, understand their language, gaze, subject choices and storytelling and compile their photos in an archive.

Chronological presentation: To preserve the archive’s integrity, I present the individual photos in a cluster next to another person’s photos that respond to the same event (e.g. bombing, blackout, loneliness, liberation, new year’s celebration, etc.) or express a similar sentiment. This collective diary is arranged chronologically, month after month, sometimes accompanied by messages. I leave it ambiguous which messages refer to which photos.

War photography: I treat these mobile phone photos of the survivors who have experienced or seen war crimes against peace as testimonies. Or would these photos not be able to serve as such? Is this area reserved for war reporters? Who can adequately document war and its destruction? And who is granted permission to compile these testimonies into an archive?

Collaborators: Juliia Poplavska (Luhansk/Odesa), Natalija Moissejenko (Saporischschja region), Lejla Dawydowa (Donezk/Kyiv), Ira Filtschakowa (Sjewjerodonezk), Sonja Filtschakowa  (Sjewjerodonezk), Valerija Orschychovska  (Kyiv), Rabbi Alisa Silbersteyn (Toronto), Jenja Danylenko (Kyiv), Olha Schurova (Kyiv), Alina Lasarewska  (Charkiw), Diana Kolesnykowa (Sjewjerodonezk), Anna Hontscharenko  (Luhansk), Jewhenija Kedrowska (Kyiv), Eduard Skoryk  (Bachmut), Aleks Chojai (Kyiv), Oksana Potapova (Starobilsk), Jewhen Dubowikow (Sjewjerodonezk), Olexandra Pohorjela (Donezk/Kyiv), Katja Mischtschenko (Poltawa/Kyiv), Mischa Hluschtschenko (Kyiv), Serhij Hrytschenjuk, Tetjana Djatschkowa (Sjewjerodonezk), Maryna Skrypnikowa  (Nowa Kachowka), Danylo E. (Mykolajiv), Kristina Galchuk (Chernivtsi), Danylo K. (Kyiv), Natalija Tymofijenko (Biljajivka, Odesa region), Julja Frolova (Gorlivka), Olexander Djadtschenko (Kyiv), Olexander (Dnipro), Ira  (Mariupol), Ljuba N.  (Luhansk), Olha, Laryssa  (Rowenky), Tetjana L. (Kramatorsk), Inna G. (Charkiw), Switlana  (Pokrowsk), Jewhen, Dmytro, Eleonora (Luhansk) and others.

This project is presented in the volume “Collaboration: A Potential History of Photography” edited by Ariella Azoulay, Wendy Ewald, Susan Meiselas and others, 2023.⧉

11 April 2022 [refers to the events on March 27]  — Diana: I have only taken 2 photos. Kramatorsk – Lwiw, March 27. I felt fear and horror, I had no thoughts because my head couldn’t function any longer… were were on the road for several days.

26 March 2022 [refers to the events on February 26]  — Olya: After we managed to get out of Kyiv, coffee at a gas station seemed to be something unreal, from a different planet or another life. 

15 March 2022 — Sonya Filchakova: It is my second night at good people’s in Dnipr. It is quiet but I am very tired. I am crying for the first time, I cannot believe there are no explosions.

8 April 2022 [refers to the events on March 11] — Alina Lazarevskaya: Some Israeli, a Jew who lives in the USA right now, provided his private jet to transport families with children from Poland to Israel. And so we got on this plane on March 11. You know, that feeling, you were homeless for a week, wandering around, before that you were sitting in a basement for a week, in the same clothes. And, we got on this plane, all gilded, with a variety of fruit, red fish for lunch, separate cabins, everything is kind of golden, leather seats. We were shocked, of course.

27 March 2022 — Oksana (Starobilsk): Their flags are flying in our square.


21 April 2022 — Alexander (Dnipro): What I will always remember is my front yard and the apricot trees in bloom.

24 April 2022 — Zhenja Danilenko: 8,000 women are waiting for the abortion pills, which we will send in half an hour. When the war is over, I will become a pharmacist.

30 April 2022 — Alex Khozhay: My wife, a manicurist, is loading an AK-74 magazine with 5.45 bullets.

2 May 2022 — Zhenja Danilenko: I was sitting on the platform [in Poland], watching the whole thing and thinking it would feel worse, and found a train back [to Ukraine]. Also, right before May 9, nobody knew if the assholes were going to drop atomic bombs on us, so I realized that I couldn’t mourn for my family in Berlin, I’d rather die there with everyone else.

5 May 2022 — Zhenja Danilenko: This is my friend’s drawing, his vision for our coat of arms. I thought, in this war, we are also re-designing Ukraine, and got a tattoo.

Exhibition view of the duo-exhibition “hinsehen”/double take/побачити at Kunstverein Grafschaft Bentheim, March – May, 2023. Curated by Muriel Meyer.