Kiev: Post-Apocalypse

PhotographerMaria Pleshkova
PrizePress / War
Entry Description

Euromaidan was a wave of demonstrations, civil unrest and revolution in Ukraine, which began on 21 November 2013. Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Kiev demanding closer European integration as well as the resignation of President Yanukovych and his government. People stayed at the Independence Square for months despite heavy police presence, regularly sub-freezing temperatures, and snow. A turning point came in late February 2014, when protesters and police clashed. Up to 100 people were killed, hundreds injured. It was then when President Yanukovych was ousted. And immediately a series of changes occurred, including the installation of a new interim government, the restoration of an older version of the Constitution, and the call to hold impromptu presidential elections within months. I came to Kiev in late February 2014, when the bloodiest clashes were over. The Independence Square wasn’t a war zone anymore, but the main anti-government protest camp was still on. I faced barricades, tents and ruins in the heart of the city. The spirit of war was still in the air. Citizens would bring flowers and candles, bid farewell to killed protesters and realize the recent events. Ukraine passed an important milestone and everybody believed that a renewed state was about to appear. Kiev’s Independence Square was a place where people fought for their freedoms and rights, and for a better future. It was a place which saw clashes between riot police and protesters, violence and deaths of many people. Later, the dead protesters were called the ‘Heaven’s Hundred’ and were honoured as national heroes. I focused on making pictures of the revolution aftermath. I paid special attention to landscapes, because memory and place have always been deeply interconnected. I photographed the Independence Square and its neighbourhood, which were filled with symbols and memory.

About Photographer

Maria Pleshkova is a multidisciplinary artist working in photography, digital collage and video. Pleshkova graduated from the Law Faculty of Moscow State University, but her career in law wasn’t long because of her passion for photography. Later, she studied Photojournalism at Moscow State University and Short film production at School of Visual Arts (Moscow). Also, she attended the Eddie Adams Workshop (USA) and the International Summer School of Photography (Latvia). Her life and art are inseparably connected. In her work, Pleshkova explores the Microcosm, the human universe, and certain moments of the highest intensity of life. Her recent projects are mostly autobiographical, but the autobiography is just an excuse to talk about things which are universal and common to all humankind. Pleshkova’s work has been shown at several international festivals in France, Spain, Italy, Georgia and Russia.