The Ukrainian people in the pictures are war refugees. Some of the nearly forty thousand who took refuge in Latvia since Russia started the war. The series of Ukrainian war refugee portraits Stand with Ukraine by photographer Veronika Simoņenkova was created over ten days at Art Station Dubulti. They were photographed in a special environment – in the space created by Thomas Hirschhorn, ART = SHELTER, which turned the Art Station into a symbolic shelter. Every visitor was invited to create, express and add something.
The photographer set out to show Ukrainians just as they are – solemn, anxious, sad, because that is how Ukrainian war refugees are feeling. Most chose to have their picture taken next to an aerography painting of a war and peace symbol by a Ukrainian artist. The exhibition, which can be viewed on the 2nd floor of the Great Amber Concert Hall, promotes awareness and support to the Ukrainian people.
The portraits of refugees photographed by Veronika Simoņenkova are characterized by the motleyness, sincerity and optimism of a family album. Despite the tragedy of the circumstances, people do not take photos with gloomy faces.Similar to private photographs from the First or Second World War, this photo series also contains an affirmation of life. Children play, teenagers dream and try on new roles, and adults go on loving life. War is a context that emphasizes the fragility and miraculous strength of humanity. The desires of those being portrayed to present themselves are visible. And the photographer's professional style of working with the improvisation of the situation is visible in order to achieve the model's psychological relief and to catch the nuances of light, spatial angle and character that take them beyond the present moment.
The photo series #StandWithUkraine. Ukrainian war refugees in Latvia documents our time with the terrible war in Ukraine and at the same time gives a specific human dimension to the high words from the political stands about the heroic Ukrainian people, who prove to the whole world their unwavering will to live in their free, democratic country and face Russian aggression with invincible tenacity. We are with Ukraine. We want Ukraine to win and we help it.
On February 24, new photographs will be added to the exhibition depicting Ukrainian refugees residing in Liepāja.
Veronika Simoņenkova (b. 1987) lives in Jūrmala and has been a professional photographer for 13 years. She works with portraits that capture people’s emotions and feelings. The photographer also does photographic reporting, which requires a quick reaction and capturing unique, precise moments. She has been a member of the Aspazija photo studio since 2015. Also in 2015, she opened her personal exhibition Diana at the Jūrmala Museum. In 2016, she presented her photographs in the culture centers of the Preiļi and Daugavpils municipalities. The photographer has also participated in group exhibitions, including the Photography of the Year Award 2013 in Rīga, Jānis Gleizds memorial photo plein air exhibition in Rēzekne, the exhibition Inta and Imants Ozoliņi by photo studio Aspazija, Jūrmala Culture Center, Krāslava, Daugavpils, Preiļi, Alberts Kronenbergs Library in Sloka. She has participated in the project of young artists Nowisms and Talks about Form at Art Station Dubulti as part of the project ART = SHELTER initiated by Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn (2022).
Concept author and curator: Inga Šteimane
Admission: freeOpening hours: Mon–Fri 11 a.m.–5 p.m., Sat–Sun 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
Liepāja City Council