What is beauty? And what is ugliness?
Beauty becomes remnants of love carefully collected piece-by-piece in your memory, that you have so carefully guarded for yourself, when evil has tried to take them away. You hold them so tightly that even the most ugly evil cannot pull them away from you.
Home is about peace and warmth: where you can be yourself, where you feel authentic, where you are safe. It was the same in Ukraine, until Russia invaded the lives of millions of people. Then, the evil came uninvited to your house. It broke down the door to your apartment. It laid on your bed and destroyed everything. It wanted everything that mattered and everything you lived for.
The walls of the house that protected you and watched the intimate moments of your life now became witness as your world was destroyed and you were thrown into the street–in your slippers or without them. It is all the same to evil. Evil does not care. What do those now – burnt walls, which for years absorbed the events of your life have to say? Today, they are silent but not voiceless.
I began to see the burn marks, melted floral prints and broken plaster of these walls as their statement. I made a picture in a driveway before stepping inside the first ruined apartment of a high-rise building. Silence. I touched the wall there and felt the wall return my touch, literally. I stood there questioning myself: what are these walls silent about?
Since February 24, 2022, Russia has been actively shelling residential neighborhoods, commercial sectors, and entire regions of the civilian population across Ukraine. According to data gathered by crisis coordinator of the United Nations, approximately 14 million Ukrainians were forced to leave their homes due to the war between Ukraine and Russia. The number of those killed due to the shelling is impossible to count.
These photographs were made in the first year of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, focused mostly on front-line towns and villages in the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions which were occupied by Russia and retaken by Ukraine.
This project has been about pain, history and the importance of keeping the memory alive. The photographs are what the walls have to say.