Russia declared war on Ukraine, a peaceful nation, on February 24, 2022. At the first sound of bombings, the life of every Ukrainian resident and citizen changed in an instant, among them photographer Alexander Glyadyelov. Since that first day, Glyadyelov has photographed the constant tensions that have defined everyday life in the warzone: quietude and chaos, life and death, home and hell.
Glyadyelov has shot hundreds of images on film, processed by night in Kyiv. His early images capture the destruction of familiar infrastructure such as roads and bridges, and with them, the sudden erasure of stability and daily routines. Citizens are seen evacuating the city of Irpin, trying to protect their most vulnerable as soldiers and civilians alike arm themselves for battle. As the war progresses, walls are sheared off buildings, exposing private spaces to open air. Homes are abandoned. Pets are left behind, or transported in lieu of other essentials.
On April 1, Russian forces withdrew from the cities around Kyiv: Irpin, Bucha, Gostomel, and Borodyanka. In the wake of their occupation, they left horrors: destroyed homes, ruined cities, hundreds of dead Ukrainians shot, raped, starved, and burned. Glyadyelov records these atrocities unsparingly, conveying them with an immediacy and familiarity not seen in media coverage. His powerful documentation, shot largely in March and April of 2022, bears witness to what is unfolding, and to the resolve of the Ukrainian people, who are holding onto hope despite the atrocities inflicted on them.
Alexander Glyadyelov (b. 1956, Legnitz, Poland) is a heralded Ukrainian documentary photographer with a career spanning over three decades. Glyadelov collaborates with numerous international humanitarian organisations, including Doctors Without Borders, highlighting acute social problems and military conflicts. He is the laureate of the highest state prize of Ukraine for works of culture and arts, the Shevchenko National Prize, for the project “Carousel”, among other awards including the Hasselblad Prize (1998). Gladyelov has been documenting Russia’s military aggression toward Ukraine since 2014.