Fracture & Healing
This series of images was developed during a residency in the heavily industrialized city of Donetsk close to what was in 2011 the Russian border in Ukraine. The style is inspired by Ukrainian and Russian.
In representing ‘other’ countries we can feel like observers of cultural forces and historical resonances that might feel at odds with our own understanding but we must also be conscious of the influence of our presence in forming these judgments. We bring our inherent, pre-conceived notions and prejudice to any landscape and my own personal development is betrayed in the nature of the work I produce. In this regard I consider photography to be a form of autobiography and this series of portraits of patients in the hospital gardens in Donetsk, is a symbiosis of my own personal sense of fracture and that of Ukraine as I empathize with its present, informed by its terrible past. I am in a country caught in flux between the lingering hangover from the Soviet past, and the seduction of the mythology of Europe’s free market.
The use of flowers in this work beyond the conventions of art historical metaphor are important symbols within Ukraine society; the color and even number of flowers having exact meaning and are a non-verbal expression of emotion. Their use in these images further acknowledges the historical importance of Ukraine’s fertile soil and mineral wealth (exploited through out the 20th century) literally under the feet of the subjects and is a clue to where any national and personal healing may come.
I have an affinity with the hospital gardens and their therapeutic value to their fractured inhabitants. The juxtaposition of injury with the flowers, betrays my own damage and I acknowledge that healing can only come from within.