Odesa, the city where time loses its contours – Ukraine through the eyes of Yelena Yemchuk

Aiming at having a concrete impact on the unfolding war, the purchase of the book made directly from www.gostbooks.com will include a donation of 20% of the proceeds from sales or pre-orders addressed to the charity Monstrov in Odesa.

Read our Q&A with the artist to know more.

As you are from Ukraine, this book should be very personal for you. What is your relationship with Ukraine?
Ukraine has always been home for me. It’s where I feel 100% myself. Ever since I started taking pictures, I wanted to tell the story of the Ukrainian people through photography, and showcase the beauty that I felt towards my country.
Ukraine is a huge part of who I am as an artist. Even though we immigrated to the United States when I was eleven, I have never felt anything but Ukrainian. In my mid-twenties, when I started traveling to Ukraine regularly, I started to understand my language in photography. I spent time in Kyiv throughout those years, and it really helped me understand who I was. That, mixed with my childhood memories, gave me my voice as an artist. I feel like my origin, the love for my country, and the Ukrainian people is in all of my work.

The book is an ode to Odesa: through its people, the city appears in the background, as a lived-in place. What made you fall in love with the city?
Odesa was always a place I wanted to visit, and when I finally arrived there it was love at first sight. A few years after I finished my project GIDROPARK in Kyiv (which ended up being my first book shot in Ukraine), I started thinking about my next project and Odesa was on my mind since that first trip I took there in 2003.
When I finally came back to Odesa in 2015, it was very natural the way things happened to create this book. I call it a love affair. I fell in love with the strange pace of life there, the sense of humor, and the spirit of the people. I used to call it the best kept secret in Europe as it is unlike any other place I’ve ever been to. It’s hard to put it into words, but it was the heart of the city and its inhabitants that I wanted to show in my work.

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