When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, shock waves reverberated across the globe – and continue to do so as the conflict escalates.
But for people living in Donbas and Crimea, the prospect of war has been a reality since 2014. Following a discredited referendum in Crimea and its annexation by Russian forces, much of the world’s media looked away even as the conflict continued.
British-Swedish photojournalist Anastasia Taylor-Lind chose to stay and document its devastating effects, often working with long-term collaborator and friend, Ukrainian journalist Alisa Sopova.
Now, the results of eight years’ work can be seen in the UK for the first time in the exhibition Ukraine: Photographs from the Frontline. Curated by the Imperial War Museums, it will tour to IWM North from October, then head to IWM London in February.
Taylor-Lind, recipient of the 2009 Joan Wakelin Bursary, says: “I’m grateful to IWM for giving these photographs a space where they can reach an audience far away from the war. I hope they can illuminate the ways, sometimes small and sometimes big, in which Ukrainians continue to live, adapt and build futures, despite violence and instability.”
A TED fellow who studied war and storytelling at Harvard University, Taylor-Lind has degrees in Documentary Photography from the University of Wales Newport (BA) and the London College of Communication (MA).
Ukraine: Photographs from the Frontline is arranged in three parts – the 2014 protests in Kyiv; the ongoing conflict for people living in eastern Ukraine; and the current Russian invasion. Here, Taylor-Lind shares five images from the exhibition.
‘Anti-government protests, Kyiv February 2014’ (top)
Smoke billows from burning tyres as protesters hold frontline barricades, built around a monument in central Kyiv.
Clashes with riot police turned increasingly violent in the days before the overthrow of the Ukrainian government. The protests were born out of frustration with the president’s choice to form closer ties with Russia over a deal with the European Union.
The Grinik family in their garden just 50 metres away from a Ukrainian frontline position.
Since 2014, Ukrainians like Olga and Nikolay Grinik have had to adapt to living under the shadow of conflict. This has meant life has continued at times without basic amenities such as electricity, local authorities, medical services and water supplies.
Anna Dedova at her son’s graveside on a frontline. He was accidentally killed by a hand grenade he found near his home. An estimated 3,400 civilians were killed in Donbas between April 2014 and December 2021.
‘Poland, March 2022’
Sisters Lyudmyla and Nelya Tkachenko at a temporary refugee shelter. The impact of the Russian invasion on Ukrainians has been devastating, causing millions to flee the country and leaving millions more internally displaced.
‘Bucha, April 2022’
Natalia Lukyanenko watches the excavation of a mass grave near Kyiv. Some of her family, including her son, were killed during a Russian occupation of the area.
This neighbourhood was so overwhelmed with dead that a mass grave was used. When the area reverted to Ukrainian control the bodies were exhumed by forensic investigators.
All images by Anastasia Taylor-Lind
Ukraine: Photographs from the Frontline, an exhibition of work by Anastasia Taylor-Lind, is at IWM North, 14 October 2022–2 January 2023 and IWM London, 3 February–7 May 2023