Sonechko, Yak Ty? (Sunshine, How Are You?)

I have always cherished memories of a happy childhood. I came into this world just five years after the Soviet Union's collapse, in the eastern part of Ukraine. I have often been reminded of my good fortune not to have experienced that tough life under the Soviet rule. Yet, as my late twenties beckon, I found myself wrestling with a profound sense of disorientation and inner uncertainty about who I truly am. It's as if my sense of self is as elusive as that of a Soviet citizen. This inner turbulence has prompted me to start rediscovering myself by revisiting and re-evaluating the memories of my upbringing through the lens of adulthood.

My childhood was marked by moments of pure joy, like savoring my mother's homemade sour cherry varenyky or the thrill of climbing trees. Yet, it was also shaped by the unyielding discipline of the Soviet era, a force that has left an indelible mark on the person I've grown into. The predominant influence during my formative years was a community steeped in Soviet values, including my family, educators, neighbours, and even the local shopkeepers and the president.  Even today, though Soviet is gone - the oppressive influence of our Eastern neighbour continues, and I currently find myself separated from my family and home due to the ongoing war.

To navigate this emotional and existential terrain, I am using the medium of photography as a means to transport myself back to the eastern reaches of Ukraine, back to my past. Through this project, I endeavour to disassemble and reconstruct the fragments of my childhood memories, each image a piece of the puzzle in reassembling my own identity.

This project reflects on the influences of the Russian continuous hidden colonialism. It is an exploration of the identity of a contemporary woman born into the post-Soviet era in Ukraine - an introspective journey that not only serves as a reflection of my personal quest for self-discovery but also as a portrayal of an entire generation that came of age in the post-Soviet milieu.