Friends or foes

While working on this project, I am thinking on the phenomenon of resistance to dehumanization.

It so happens that in the war between Russia and Ukraine there are no friends or foes for me. I was born in Ukraine, but I grew up in Russia.

At the beginning of the war, my close friends found themselves on the side of evil. People who could never ignore the grief of others are now finding excuses for the war. We've stopped communicating. I've lost a huge piece of myself. Have they become strangers to me?

Life in the midst of evil makes people change. It causes distortions in their behavior and changes personalities. War is evil. And now this evil is all around me. Bridges that took many years to build are been destroyed. People who were parts of me are disappearing.

It is very difficult to resist dehumanization during the war. That is what the “fighting spirit” is based on. It is much easier to kill an impersonal “fascist”, “drug addict”, “Khokhol” than a person like you who also lived, loved, and made plans.

It is easier to hate all Russians than to see in a person – a person in the first place.

While working on this project, I am thinking on the phenomenon of resistance to dehumanization. And I myself try not to succumb to the temptation to divide everyone into friends and strangers, as the line between friends and strangers can be very fine. “Friends” can become “strangers,” and “strangers” can become “friends” very easily.

© Maija Bondar - Image from the Friends or foes photography project
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Self-portrait. There were fewer and fewer people around me. The friends were getting disappeared especially quickly. Then I realized that my loneliness was a salvation.

© Maija Bondar - Image from the Friends or foes photography project
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These are swans that have lowered their heads into the water.My friend who lives in Russia told me, “Maya, of course we are against the war, but we don’t know the whole truth. I just want to live and not get involved in all this."

© Maija Bondar - Image from the Friends or foes photography project
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When the war began, it seemed that it was impossible to be true, as if it was all a dream. This flying scarf is a metaphor that refers to a “flying carpet”, which is as impossible in the real world as the war between Russia and Ukraine.

© Maija Bondar - Image from the Friends or foes photography project
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I am divided into two parts. One part of me is in Ukraine, where my relatives are defending their right to live. The second part is in Russia, where a huge number of people support the war. Who of them are friends and who are enemies?

© Maija Bondar - Image from the Friends or foes photography project
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Because of the war in Ukraine, it seems to me that I am standing on the lake shore and looking at the other side of it. There's a light there and the life goes on, but on my shore the life seems to have stopped.

© Maija Bondar - Image from the Friends or foes photography project
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The outside world that surrounds me still exists and is open to me. But I myself build a barrier in front of myself, try not to notice all this light, ignore its existence.

© Maija Bondar - Image from the Friends or foes photography project
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I look up and see how it’s snowing. My friend in Russia sees the same snow and calls it the same way as I do. But why do we see different things when we both look at the war in Ukraine?

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Friends or foes by Maija Bondar

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