I woke up in my Kyiv apartment in the early morning of February 24, 2022, to the sound of explosions, and I immediately understood that the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine had begun.
The next day, we all moved as a family to our relatives’ house in the village of Vyhraiv in Cherkasy Oblast, 130 km from Kyiv. After three months of evacuation, we returned to the capital at the end of May 2022, and decided to stay there.
I started my visual diary on that first morning, as soon as I was able to recover from the initial shock. I record my own life and that of my family, as well as our wider surroundings. These are the materials I have used to create War Diary.
The series has no strict chronology: in the diptychs, images from the evacuation period can appear next to photos I took after returning home. The main idea is the internal connection between them, which becomes metaphorical.
War Diary is mostly not about external events, but about the inner state and human feelings in the midst of war. The images are documentary, but at the same time they acquire symbolic meaning.
War Diary is also about the value of life and striving to find crumbs of normality in absolutely abnormal circumstances. It is not only about trying to survive and protect loved ones, but also about keeping the essence of human beings.
About the author
Kyiv, Ukraine, 1973
After beginning her career as a graphic designer and art director, Artemova switched to photography from 2008. Her work was mainly documentary from 2011 to 2014 before she turned to conceptual and art projects after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as she looked for a new language to comprehend events and express her feelings.
Artemova’s work has been exhibited widely at galleries and festivals in Europe and the United States, including at BursaPhotofest in Turkey (2012); Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona (2014); and Odesa//Batumi Photo Days, Ukraine (2016). Her photography has been shown more recently at Semperdepot, Atelierhaus at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna (2019); Centre of Contemporary Art, Toruń, Poland (2020); Mystetskyi Arsenal National Art and Culture Museum Complex, Kyiv (2021); and YermilovCentre of Contemporary Art, Kharkiv, Ukraine (2021). In 2022, Artemova’s work appeared at the Images Vevey festival in Switzerland; Vizura Zagreb Biennial; and Künstlerhaus, Vienna; and in 2023 at the Centre of Art and Culture, Castello di San Michele, Sardinia, Italy.
Artemova has been commended or shortlisted for a number of prizes, including the International Photography Awards (2008), Sony World Photography Awards (2010), and the Kolga Tbilisi Photo Award (2015). She is a member of the UPHA (Ukrainian Photographic Alternative) cultural community, created to help and support the development of contemporary Ukrainian photography.
Hoda Afshar, Speak the Wind, 2015–2020
Gera Artemova, War Diary, 2022
Ragnar Axelsson, Where the World Is Melting, 2016
Alessandro Cinque, Peru, a Toxic State, 2017
Siân Davey, The Garden, 2022
Federico Ríos Escobar, Paths of Desperate Hope, 2022
Gauri Gill, Notes from the Desert, 1999-ongoing
Michał Łuczak, Extraction, 2017
Yael Martínez , Luciérnaga (Firefly), 2021
Richard Renaldi, Disturbed Harmonies, 2023
Vanessa Winship, Sweet Nothings: Schoolgirls of Eastern Anatolia, 2007
Vasantha Yogananthan, Mystery Street, 2022