Our Sincere Toils
Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, Ukraine has enjoyed its longest period of independence in centuries, but the nation has never ceased to question which foreign power they should be aligned with. Before the presidential elections of 2004, the answer had been Russia but everything changed with the street protests of the Orange Revolution and the forced resignation of president-elect Yanukovych. Sadly, the pro-European government that took control was plagued by scandal, corruption and internal disagreements. In 2010, Yanukovych returned to power in an election deemed free and fair.In November 2013, I visited Western Ukraine. Spending time with Ukrainian people my own age, I began to understand the problems and restrictions they faced. During this period, I witnessed Ukraine’s response to the European trade deal U-turn that had enormous economic and political implications.This experience resulted in a fascination with the culture and politics of Ukraine, and I decided to go back to the country to continue observing and exploring this complex and troubled nation. I returned to Kiev on the 21st February 2014, the day after more than one hundred pro-European militants were shot dead by government forces and the course of Ukraine’s history irrevocably altered.In the second part of this project, I travelled across the country, exploring and observing life outside the Euro Maidan protest site. I wanted to gain an insight into how ordinary Ukrainian people sought to free themselves from corruption and exploitation.
My imagery represents a personal record of the everyday life of individuals against the backdrop of Ukraine’s uprising. I was interested in the human details of a country going through a swift revolution and the subsequent annexation of part of its territory. These photographs contemplate the aftermath of Ukraine’s bloody uprising that led to the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovich and the unpredictable future facing the people I met on this journey.