A photobook about the lives of LGBTIQ+ people in Ukraine facing the Russian invasion.
„I feel unstable. Everything that is happening in the world now shows that the world is fragile as glass. And these days, while war is happening in my country, I feel fear of everything. « - Yehor, March 2022, Lviv
Hi, my name ist Sitara Thalia Ambrosio, I am a photojournalist based in Northern Germany. This is the campaign, for my first photobook and a project I have poured heart and soul into for the last two years. “Fragile as glass” is a long-term photographic essay following the fates of different queer realities in Ukraine. The lives of Yehor H. (20), Yeva-Lotta Y.(19), Sasha N. (22), Sasha N. (21) and Edward R. (37). From birthday parties in the west of the country, to Kyiv Pride activities in the capital, to relatives that still live near the front-line in the southeast. From everyday challenges to intimate moments. The long-term project creates space for images and thoughts that are often lost in crisis and war scenarios.
On February 24th, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. The young democracy, which since the Euromaidan has been moving towards European human rights standards, is under test. According to American media reports, Russian troops are carrying lists of queer activists to be arrested and persecuted. In Russia there is a homophobic and trans-hostile social climate. Just as the rights of queer people in Ukraine are slowly improving, the community is now under immediate threat. 20-year-old Yehor says:
“Before autumn, the affection that war had on my life was limited by constant fear of air sirens and missiles, but now it affects me every single day during power outages, when I come back to my dark and cold apartment. Lying under the blanket to prevent myself from a devastating feeling of emptiness and loneliness. My depressive episode got worse and I didn't have enough strength to get up from bed. News from my hometown where my mom and grandma currently are got worse - Russian missiles become even harder. Sometimes I just sit on my bed and think that I couldn't take it anymore. I want it to stop. I don't know if it's connected to me being gay, but during the war I felt that I'm not masculine enough. I should be a manly man that protects his family and friends. But I'm not.”
Now the stories of the protagonists are to receive an appropriate (re)presentation in a photo book in order to document and archive the intimate testimonies in a careful, powerful and bundled way. Quotes from interviews conducted on site, are to be juxtaposed with portraits and documentary photos of people’s lives. The medium of a photo book wants to create a fragile space to navigate through people’s lives with as much time as any viewer wants to spend. The play with color, layout and the synergy of text and images can already be felt in a first self-produced dummy.
As a freelance photojournalist realizing free long-term projects comes with a lot of hardship. Working alongside assignments in Ukraine, I spent my own savings to continue to document queer realities on site. Several times the pictures from the project were offered to media outlets, but in the reporting about the Russian invasion in Ukraine the fate of LGBTIQ-people has gotten too little attention. I continued my work at my own cost and decided to nevertheless follow queer realities in a country at war. The project was then awarded the Residency Price at Hellerau Portraits 2023. Now the photos are edited, I sewed together a dummy and would be ready for further production, but my funds are limited. Together with graphic designer Jasmin Cathor, a layout and design for the photo book is to be created. To add context the journalist Anastasia Tikhomirova, a journalist with a special focus on the situation in Russia and Ukraine, will write an essay accompanying the photos. "Fragile as Glass" will be published by Kettler publishing house from Dortmund, Germany.
I simply cannot afford to carry the cost on my own and the biggest challenge is to make ends meet. For layout, production and printing additional money is needed. I count on the support and expertise of colleagues, friends and you, to realize this photo book! By supporting this campaign you help us to shine light on the situation for LGBTQ-people in the war-torn country.
Thanks in advance for sharing and your support!