Kyiv. Ya Gallery Art Centre
06.09.2017 – 23.09.2017
Despair and sorrow overtake every traveller when they hear their GPS tell them that they have come to their final destination – but the village you wanted to visit is already gone. Only piles of black logs that can be seen through thick brushwood along the road allude to people living here one day. About 640 rural settlements have disappeared in Ukraine since 1991. Rural population in Ukraine has been growing only shorter for the last decade with an unceasing drift of people to cities observed to this day.
Despite such dismal facts, this is the project where I wanted to create the images of the common people who kept on living and, in most cases, surviving there and thus, willingly or unwillingly, supporting the Ukrainian village. To show the daily routine of average villagers who live their time in such special though ordinary for them environment. In the world that their parents and grandparents grew up in and that saved primordial wisdom and experience and passed them genetically from generation to generation. Apart from some minor details, this is the way that people used to live in ancient times. They believed in God, tilled the land, bred stock, gave birth to children, celebrated holidays. Villagers do not see anything strange or special, tragic or humiliated in their microworld, this is just the way they live because these have been the ways since the dawn of time. To understand these people better, their lifestyle, so unusual for us and so normal for them, one should dip for some time into this environment full of labour and struggle for existence, feel the unforgettable, authentic atmosphere, try to live, at least for a little, their mode of life established from the year one. I offer a viewer to use my photographs to at least for a while plunge into these deep historical beginnings of our time.
I have been working on this project for more than four years. I took these photographs during numerous trips to the border districts of Sumy, Chernihiv, Rivne and Volyn Oblasts of Ukraine. I do not title my photos on purpose, because I think that the human stories behind them will be understood and apperceived by the viewers without any explanation needed. Besides, everyone may give their own title to any work they like.Oleksandr Prymak