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«Passport» Lugansk, Ukraine, 1994-1995

Photograph

Pigment Ink on Dibond Paper

16.93 x 22.05 x 0.12 in

43.0 x 56.0 x 0.3 cm

Edition of 10

This work comes with a certificate.

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    About The Work

    After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it became necessary for the newly independent Ukraine to replace the old Soviet passports with new Ukrainian ones in the shortest possible time frame. Thus every Ukrainian had to get a new passport within the year. In 1994, social services in Lugansk, a city in south-western Ukraine, recruited photographers to take free I.D. photos of the elderly, sick or infirm citizens who couldn’t afford to pay for them.

    The Ukrainian photographer Alexander Chekmenev was one of those who accepted the mission of going door to door during this passport-nationalization campaign. He accompanied social-service staffers whose job was to provide those needy people with free medicine and groceries. It created an impressive body of work about rural Ukraine and its hardships, one that is reminiscent of Mikhailov’s documentation of people living on the fringes of society.

    "When I saw how people were living the last years of their lives, it made a powerful impression on me. I remember a blind woman. I didn’t know she was blind, so I asked her to look at the lens, but she told me she couldn’t see it. I wondered about a blind person’s need for a passport. She didn’t have long to live, in any case"

    — Alexander Chekmenev

    Courtesy of Galerie Folia

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