The city of foxes is filled with wolves
Last September I finally started working on a new photo project. It was supposed to be about the young art scene in East Ukraine. The project was put on hold for a bit when russia started positioning it's troops near the border end of November. And I don't even know what it is now.
I know Vitalii from way back when I was working on my book (It was snowing outside). He was always very determined to make a difference in his city.
He grew up in Lyssytschansk. A city about 20km away from the contact line (or as I guess now the old contact line).
Lyssychansk itself was occupied for a while too in 2014. The traces of war were ever so present.
Packs of stray dogs roam the streets like little wolves. They were left behind when people fled.
A lot of houses where destroyed, a lot just abandoned. It sure is a sad place at first glance. But as you looked closer, you would find it is so much more than that and you would find so much love, strength, hope and life there.
Vitalii started telling me about wanting to organise exhibitions in these empty houses and he started the initiative Gareleya. A network of artists, mainly from East ukraine started growing.
I was so excited when I was finally vaccinated and could safely travel to Lyssy again and could finally see some of these exhibitions with my own eyes. And believe me they were incredible. Nothing like anything I had ever seen. Driven by absolut and pure passion to a point that seemed to border on insanity.
They took these sad and empty places and filled them with life and creativity. They seemed to have created this parallel world where there were no boundaries, no rules and anything was possible. I can't even put into words how much it impressed me and how lucky I felt to be able to see this.
Anyways. All of that feels long ago now.
Vitalii and his girlfriend fled to Lviv on the day the full scale invasion started.
Most of the Gareleya artists fled as well. Some are still stuck in occupied cities.
When I asked Vitalii if I could help in any way or send him money. He told me to donate to Gareleya instead. He wants to help support the whole team of Gareleya, including the artists they work with. He says there are about 100 now. Most of them are from cities that are under heavy fire right now. So I am begging you please, if you can, please donate! I know a lot of these artists. Please help my friends!
(To explain the title: It was just my working title, but it kind of grew on me. Lyssy (лисы) translates to foxes and I found a note in an old note book that I wrote in when I first traveled to Lyssychank and saw the packs of stray dogs for the first time: `The city of foxes is filled with wolves`)