When the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, I had very serious doubts about whether I wanted to cover it.
A week later – and while everyone was waiting to see the Russian army take Kiev – I realized that this is the first war in Europe and the first war in the 21st century without any ideological bias – that is, it is clearly geopolitical.
When history is written, people’s stories are lost. The big agencies and TV networks focus on the war zones, the shelters, the stream of refugees – the “hot” news. The big picture that one sees in a crisis, a disaster, a war is likely generic, perhaps even stereotypical – and it certainly does not delve into people’s lives.
I wanted to approach people’s stories and how they reconstruct the big picture. I’m interested in understanding how war has turned their lives upside down, how they think, what they want, what they fear; to illuminate their collective and individual trauma.
Having worked several times in war zones in the past, I’ve always had a special appreciation for those people who remain in their homes during the bombings.
I went to the east side and the west side of the Dnieper, to five different apartment buildings representing three different historical periods: the tsarist, the socialist and the period of Independence.
I did not just watch as an observer who arrives, takes pictures and leaves. The shots were taken inside these people’s homes during the overnight curfew and air-raid sirens. They shared their food, their home and their thoughts with me.
This is their voice.