Usually, we learn about wars from adults, who directly experience or witness an event. Unfortunately, teenagers also have to hide from shelling, leave their homes, live and plan to face an uncertain future. In the fall 22 Odesa Photo Days Festival (Ukraine) conducted an online mentoring programme for young Ukrainian photographers dedicated to photographic storytelling. With the mentors, selected participants, aged 17-21, created photo projects about their wartime experience.
The Mentoring Programme resulted in 40 photo series about the impact of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine on the lives of young Ukrainians and the entire country. There are stories about destroyed cities and tireless volunteers; Kharkiv and Mariupol; personal traumas and tender encounters during the war; cultural heritage and decolonization; painful memories of what was lost and attempts to find a new home; evacuation and confidence of victory.
“Despite the blackouts and constant shellings, 40 of 44 participants of the programme created and finished in time their photo projects. I am grateful to the mentors and participants for their productive work even in the circumstances of the full-scale war”, Kateryna Radchenko, curator of the Odesa Photo Days Festival and of the mentoring programme, said.
Programme mentors: Taras Bychko, Valeriy Miloserdov, Mykhaylo Palinchak, Alina Smutko and Igor Chekachkov.
The work of three artists (Ivan Samoilov, Tim Melnikov and Stanislav Boyko) has been showcased at the pop-up exhibition in Paris as part of the Un weekend à l’Est festival (end of November 2022), in cooperation with bookstore-gallery Delpire & Co.
Rafał Milach has selected four series of other participants (Kateryna Alieksieienko, Marharyta Rubanenko, Nadiia Tarasevych and Yurii Holik) for the UAtlas, a visual archive of war stories from Ukraine.
The Mentoring Programme for young Ukrainian photographers was made possible thanks to the sincere support of the American people, provided through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Odesa Photo Days is an international festival of contemporary photography, founded in 2015 in response to the war in eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea. The festival takes place annually in the spring in Odesa, gathering an international audience of photographers, curators, researchers, and photography lovers from all over the world. During 9 months of the full-scale war, the Odesa Photo Days Festival, led by Kateryna Radchenko, held more than 40 exhibitions in 13 countries, 30 lectures and presentations, and collected and donated about 10,000 euros to Ukrainian humanitarian needs.