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Escape – Maryna Shtanko

A few years ago my parents bought a house in a small village in Ukraine. The village, which is called Stupky, had a population of forty-seven people in 2001. I think it’s even less now. I used to visit my parents once in a while and stay there over a weekend. It’s a beautiful place with rich nature, a river nearby and a pine forest next to the house; but somehow I always felt as if I didn’t belong there.

Being used to city life and urban surroundings, I didn’t feel comfortable while staying in the “middle of nowhere” for too long. In the whole village, there are just a few houses located close to the forest. There are no schools and no grocery stores. Actually – there is one so-called “store”. It’s a big truck which comes to the village every Wednesday and Saturday and sells products like bread, butter, and milk. However, this year, everything has changed. Because of the lockdown, my twin sister, a close friend of mine and I spent several weeks at my parents’ house. During the pandemic, it appeared to be a perfect place to stay and thus escape reality. It felt almost surreal to not put on a mask every time we went outside. I wanted to capture this time and see how such an ordinary life can be so unusual at the same time.

I am a visual artist and photographer from Kharkiv, Ukraine (b.1992). My work spans from documentary to fine art and I enjoy working with analogue photography, experimenting with text and painting techniques. /

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