Let Us Not Fall Asleep While Walking

David Denil

2016 - Ongoing

Kiev, Ukraine

In 1991, Ukraine gained its independence from the Soviet Union in the aftermath of its dissolution at the end of the Cold War. Following independence, Ukraine declared itself a neutral state.

In 2013, protests against the government of President Yanukovych broke out in downtown Kiev after the government made the decision to suspend the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement and seek closer economic ties with Russia. This began a several-months-long wave of demonstrations and protests known as the Euromaidan, which later escalated into the 2014 Ukrainian revolution that ultimately resulted in the overthrowing of Yanukovych and the establishment of a new government.

Since the annexation of Crimea by Russian forces and the War in Donbas, the violence in Ukraine has killed up till today about 9.500 people, 22.000 people have been wounded, more than 1.1 million are displaced and 3.1 million are left in need of humanitarian aid.

Labeled as ‘frozen’, the Boista Agenda failed to resolve the Ukraine crisis and the war in Donbas still goes on, even escalating since the US election.

Within the complexity of separate powers, my work ‘Let Us Not Fall Asleep While Walking’ depicts the mental state of Ukraine in relation to the ongoing war.

3 Years ago I became interested in photography. More and more I felt myself limited by the straightforward approach of storytelling. Along the visual form itself, I was missing some sort of artistic authorship to visualize possible interpretations that the obvious could not provide. With this work I tried to add relevant values by exploring indirect narratives that bring forward hidden meanings by using metaphorical representations based on experienced facts.

Within the work ‘Let Us Not Fall Asleep While Walking’, I tried to reflect on the psychological impact of this war on the Ukrainian people. By questioning my personal motivation and the use of photography to document, I approached this subject by interaction and dialogue with random people on the streets as a main source of inspiration.

So far the work embodies about 150 images and are mainly created from the random testimonies I encountered while documenting. I translated these stories and thoughts directly into visual ideas by combining them within the elements and setting offered by the nearby surroundings.

In the second part of the work, starting next April, I will explore the lives of the people directly involved in the affected areas in Donbas as an extension on the work so far. The purpose is to integrate a deeper context and understanding of the crisis itself. I have no intention to represent the actual situation of the active war but will approach this by conceptualizing these ideas and workflow even further, to visualize the essential struggles and doubts the people experience.

Along the work made so far, there is the importance of collecting found footage from within the region I operate. In a final stage, all these elements will be combined within the narrative of a book. The publication is foreseen for September 2017.

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  • Unfinished landmark of corruption

  • A pile of tires as part of a revolution

  • Choices are made by the ones who can see

  • Playgrounds as imagined

  • A veteran walking uphill

  • Soldiers waiting for the unknown

  • Building castles

  • Identical twins

  • Friends sticking together towards the other side

  • A red dress that was never returned to its owner

  • Prepared for the days to come

  • Disconnected from news or entertainment

  • 5 year old girl lost without parents

  • The reason why we are here is to play

  • The end of the cold war and the beginning of a new

  • Reflections of a bloody past

  • The be blinded or not

  • There is always hope on the other end

  • The day we lost our home

  • Stalin's last draw


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