I am a freelance photographer and visual artist based in Saint-Petersburg, Russia working with National Geographic Russia, VICE UK/USA, De Volkskrant, Takie Dela, Meduza, Novaya Gazeta, others. My photographic practice primarily focuses on the...
Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, more than 400 thousand refugees have entered neighboring Moldova, most of whom continued their journey to Europe, but 90 thousand remained on the territory of the Republic. More than 70 thousand of them are minors.
The characters of this story are children from different regions of Ukraine that have been subjected to the Russian aggression - Nikolaev, Kharkov, Kherson and others. All of them live in a temporary accommodation center in Chisinau, Moldexpo. This is a former exhibition complex, and later a covid hospital. Children are forced to huddle in small boxes without doors or ceilings, in unsanitary conditions. These boys and girls are acutely worried about leaving home, they miss their relatives, friends who stayed in Ukraine, pets, toys, favorite parks and streets.
Within the framework of the story, with the help of a projector, I overlay photographs from the happy, pre-war past of these children onto their figures and current living conditions thus showing the consequences of this terrible war.
I asked the children's parents for the projected photos, we chose them all together - these are the most memorable and dearest images, reminiscent of home, which capture favorite places and moments which were destroyed by the war.
Mark, 1 month old, was born in Nikolaev right before the start of the war and immediately after the birth, together with his mother, he was forced to leave. The photo projected onto Mark shows the Ingul Bridge - the photo was taken by Mark's father, who is an amateur drone photographer. The family loved to walk around this place before leaving and watch the bridge drawing.
Timofei is 6 years old. The boy fled from Nikolaev together with his mother and brother Arsen, after windows were blown out of their house as a result of an explosion. The photo projected onto the boy was taken two years ago while walking outside the city.
Alya is 13 years old. The girl left Mariupol a week ago together with her mother and sister. Their house was destroyed by Russian troops. Alya worries about her friends who stayed in the city. The photo projected onto Alya shows her with her sister in a play mall located in the center of Mariupol, where the family enjoyed visiting. The mall was also destroyed.
Tima is 8 years old, he is from Kherson. The boy fled the city together with his mother and brother, leaving all his toys at home. They took only the essentials in the hope of returning in a few days. But the situation only worsened. The family left because they could no longer endure the bombing and sit in a damp basement. The photo projected onto the boy shows his classmates. Tima loves to study, his favorite subject is mathematics.
Sofia is 7 years old. Before leaving Irpin, she and her mother spent 7 days in the basement of their house. The family's neighbors were killed in the bombing. The photograph projected onto Sophia's hands captures her favorite sakura flowers, which bloom in the town closer to summer.
Sasha, 12 years old. He has been living in the camp for a month, where he came with his mother from Nikolaev. Sasha's mother has now gone back to try to pick up Sasha's brother, who is subject to conscription - he is 19 years old. The photograph projected onto the boy depicts him with a guitar. In his native Nikolaev, he spent a lot of time playing, but the family packed their bags very quickly and took only the most important things - medicines and warm clothes, they could not take the guitar.
Elmira is 16 years old, she came from Odessa together with her mother, frightened by the prospects to die during bombings. It was difficult to get to Chisinau - they had to stand in a traffic jam for two days. The photograph projected onto the girl shows a field of sunflowers where she spent time with her friends in the summer.
Slavik is 11 years old, he was born in Kherson, where he has lived all his life. The trip to Moldova as a refugee has been his first trip abroad. Photo projected onto the boy - his favorite place in the city - the Ferris wheel.
Vera is 3 years old, she was born in Nikolaev and came to Chisinau with her brother and mother. Vera's mother hopes that the girl won't remember this time when she grows up. The photo projected onto Vera shows her twin sister Marina, who stayed in Nikolaev with her grandmother.
Katya is 17 years old, she left her hometown of Nikolaev a month ago. Her parents stayed in the city, at the moment there is no contact with them. Katya dreams of getting to New York and seeing skyscrapers. At the moment she does not have any plan for the future, she did not expect that she would have to leave so quickly, leaving her native places and beloved friends. The photograph projected onto the interior of Katya's box shows a girl with her beloved friend Inna on the seashore.
Andrei is 7 years old, the boy came from Mariupol together with his mother. His father and sister were killed as a result of explosion. However, Andrei's mother, Elena, does not tell the boy about this. The photograph projected onto Andrey displays the boy hugging his sister Ira.