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In May 2022, I joined the volunteers who have been helping rebuild villages of Chernihiv Oblast in Ukraine damaged by the Russian army. Around 15-20 volunteers go there twice a week. We have already restored more than 20 houses and helped about 150 families with materials for repair.

This photo project is about volunteers who rebuild houses and let the stories of the locals pass through them. My photos were made using the double exposure technique and captured on film.

You can read every report and help us to help people on our Instagram (@varyalushchyk). 

More info: Instagram | youtube.com

#1

Double exposure photo of a volunteer in Ukraine by Andrii Denysenko

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When the war started, every Ukrainian, whether residing in the country or abroad, began contributing in any way they could. The group of people I go with (we still go weekly, and all updates can be found on an Instagram profile @varyalushchyk) initiated food deliveries to checkpoints in Kyiv at the onset of the war.

Following the liberation of the Chernihiv region, we started to transport humanitarian aid and food there. We also asked locals what else we could do to help. We were approached to help clean damaged houses, which led to a chain reaction—cleaning one house, then another, and eventually, we began bringing building materials and constructing houses ourselves. I joined the effort purely out of the desire to provide assistance. 

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#2

Double exposure photo of a volunteer in Ukraine by Andrii Denysenko

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madamecorcoran avatar
harpling
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

It looks like there are holes missing in this person. A metaphor for the damage, perhaps?

#3

Double exposure photo of a volunteer in Ukraine by Andrii Denysenko

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 My motivation was not to create a documentary or gather material for any photo project; I simply wanted to help. I carried my digital camera on every trip, capturing photos and videos in between cleanup and construction activities. Over time, I accumulated a collection of a few thousand photos and a couple of hours of video footage from these journeys, which I used to create a short documentary with English subtitles, available on YouTube.

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Among my photos are numerous shots of destroyed fences, houses, military equipment, and stories of individuals affected by the conflict.

Film photography, however, has always held a special place for me. The inability to immediately see the results and the limitation on attempts make these photos unique and more precious in my eyes. While I could easily have taken similar shots with a digital camera and later combined them in post-production, they wouldn't carry the same uniqueness.

In the summer of 2022, I discovered the double exposure technique when I acquired a Canon A-1 camera. This technical feature inspired the idea, and upon seeing the results, these photo compositions began to convey a deeper meaning. They symbolize how the volunteers allow the stories and experiences of local residents to pass through them, just like the holes in their silhouettes. I had no preconceived plan to align the cracks and holes in fences with specific silhouettes, but the way they harmonized naturally struck me as remarkably powerful.

#6

Double exposure photo of a volunteer in Ukraine by Andrii Denysenko

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Double exposure photo of a volunteer in Ukraine by Andrii Denysenko

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Invent The Horizon
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10 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I've never seen more people impressed by very basic photoshop. Ukraine is not some holy land of saints and virgins. Stop pandering to each other and ask what all our tax dollars are really doing over there.

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Each family's history is its own individual tragedy, and they all touch you in their unique way, subtly shifting your perspective. Among these stories, Svetlana's story resonated with me the most. When we were informed of a woman living on one of the streets whose house had also been destroyed, our initial visit left us deeply shocked. She was essentially living amidst a heap of rubble with cats and dogs, cooking on an open fire, and she had virtually nothing. Winter and cold weather were approaching rapidly. Through our collective efforts, we managed to construct a small house for her just in time for the harsh weather. I shudder to think what might have happened to her if we hadn't reached her in time.

#8

Double exposure photo of a volunteer in Ukraine by Andrii Denysenko

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#9

Double exposure photo of a volunteer in Ukraine by Andrii Denysenko

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We continue our journeys to Kolychivka, and presently, we are building two houses—one for a family with health issues unable to undertake the construction themselves, and the other for Nataliya. Last year, we assisted her and her husband in clearing their land and providing building materials; they were determined to construct their own home. Despite the challenges they faced, they remained hardworking and positive individuals. Tragically, Nataliya's husband lost his life defending Ukraine during the winter, leaving her alone. This is why we continue to support her.

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For regular updates on our work and future plans, you can visit the profile @varyalushchyk, where we share weekly reports on our activities and information on how you can contribute to our team's efforts.

#10

Double exposure photo of a volunteer in Ukraine by Andrii Denysenko

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#11

Double exposure photo of a volunteer in Ukraine by Andrii Denysenko

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Stephen Smith
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10 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

It's a shame that the hard working volunteers have not got proper pictures of themselves.

One Kolychivka story