The Crossman
Project info

I am a street photographer who has photographed urban scenes all over the world from young men posing with their classic cars in Havana to bleak images of the empty streets of Oslo. At the end of February 2014, I went to Kiev for two days to shoot the extraordinary street life during the 2014 Ukraine Revolution.

The first image sets the scene for my visit. It is a daytime aerial view of Kiev’s Independence Square less than a week after 20 February 2014, the day the city saw it’s worst day of violence for nearly 70 years. We see the undamaged statue of archangel Michael, the city’s patron. However, at the centre of the photograph features the real subject; The Trade Unions Building which was the Euromaidan political headquarters during the 2014 Ukrainian revolution. The building was completely burned down at night on 18–19 February, while mass snipers’ fire took place on 20 February 2014. On closer inspection, we see that the square is crowded with people, but they seem insignificant next to the large public buildings.

In the second image we witness anti-government protesters marching through Independence Square wearing helmets and carrying handmade weapons and makeshift shields for protection. We see the statue of archangel Michael, the city’s patron, in the background.

Image number three shows a temporary campsite on the outskirts of Independence Square. It is set up by what must be anti-government protesters. They have gone to the trouble of hanging up a film poster from the American blockbuster Thor, starring blond viking Chris Hemsworth. We see empty takeaway boxes in this messy scene free from it’s creators who are probably busy elsewhere.

Image four portrays an eerie battlefield scene with a lone dove spreading it’s wings in the aftermath of what has been described as a movement that was "the first geopolitical revolution of the 21st century", according to former Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili. A scarecrow-like mock protester is pictured on a barricade between where the protestors and government forces were clashing. We see the burned top of the Euromaidan political headquarters in the back of the picture, which is taken at the foot of the statue of archangel Michael were people have laid colourful flowers.

Piles of sandbags barricading Independence Square with the burned Euromaidan political headquarters in the background is the fifth image of my story. We see the back of a female civilian between the towering barricades. She is carrying a large handbag like she has just popped out to the shop looking as if she is taking it all in.

The sixth image is a close-up of crowd gathering in the afternoon on 25 February in Independence Square. The subjects are wearing Russian-style fur hats and fur-collared hoods on this cold day. The mood is that of quiet resilience.

Anti-government protesters handing out hot drinks on the cold evening of the 25th is my photo number seven. The mood is bright, despite the smoky air and dramatic skies looming above the scene.

Number eight is the title image of this story. It all made sense to me when I saw this young, unidentified man approaching as he walked through the midst of anti-government protesters bearing a large cross around his neck. Let’s call him the Crossman. He somewhat personifies the gap between Ukraine’s national identity, it’s closeness to Russia and the anti-religious past of the Soviet Union. He might well be one of the many young, angry men we hear so much about today.

My number nine captures the police advancing with an armoured vehicle through Independence Square. We get a sense of the fact that the enemy is represented by the current government and it is literally crossing the line.

Protesters dragging a canon in an evening shot from Independence Square is my last image in this story. The air is smoky. We see European and Ukrainian flags waving in the background. This is a scene of anti-government protesting that did not end after I headed back home.