“I’m back, but my heart remains in Kyiv, awake through the night, waiting for explosions to burst,” I write, trying to explain to a friend how I feel.
“My friend’s ex’s brother disappeared today, I have to tell her, but I can’t find the words,” says a friend as he enters the exhibition opening. “You know, every day, someone dies among my close and distant acquaintances. Every day,” he says when we drink tea in the evening. This is what the beginning of June 2023 in Kyiv looks like.
We are sitting in a cinema hall, 300 of us, watching a documentary about the first 20 days of the siege of Mariupol, looking at corpses of murdered babies, at a pregnant woman on a stretcher with her womb ripped open (an explosive device fell on the maternity and paediatrics department of the hospital while she was giving birth), at the crying father of a dead son, at limbs torn off of teens, at the endless horror and pain, we all cry. We cry, but we continue watching because we are witnesses of crimes. Are there words for this? We swirl about the festival, everyone hurts.
Far from the city centre, the only visual signs of war at this moment are anti-tank hedgehogs. Three steel strips crossed and welded. A drawing of a hedgehog corresponds to how Kyiv feels in June 2023. Because there’s no way to draw night sirens. And I can’t find the words.
There are no words for endless excruciating pain. People live their lives regardless of it all. It’s not a choice. There is no choice.
Instead of words, let me share that which I witnessed most of – the effort to protect. As a gift, I was given a small book of postcards documenting the monuments of Kyiv, kept in an embrace of sandbags and sheets of plywood. These photos are better than words in conveying how Kyiv felt in early June 2023.
THE COLLECTION OF POSTCARDS WARTIME IN KYIV
Photo: Oleksandr Burlaka
Design: Valeriia Gorodchanina
Creative idea: Yulia Salizhenko
Management: Tetiana Novikova
Text: Yuriy Marchenko
Published by: www.platfor.ma