Oksana Yushko is a Moscow based photographer and visual artist, currently focused on personal projects in Eastern Europe and the Baltic region. Her approach combines journalism, sociology, and anthropology, while her practise includes photography, video, and installations. Yushko was a winner of Luma Rencontres Dummy Book Award Arles 2017, NPPA 2015, Prix Bayeux Calvados 2014, BURN Magazine 2013, Lens Culture 2011, Conscientious Portfolio Competition 2010, the Aftermath Project 2010. Her works have been exhibited in galleries and published by media across the world.
I started this project with a photograph of my own parents: my mother is Russian and my father is Ukrainian. They met and fell in love many years ago. My friends and family and I live in two worlds, in two countries outside international borders and prejudices. Recent events have shocked us all. There are terrible things happening. But this photo series is not about politics; it is about people.
The ties between Russia and Ukraine have always been close in all regards: you can find Ukrainian relatives in just about any Russian family, for instance. Creating a photo series about Russian-Ukrainian couples from all over the two countries, from Western Ukraine to the Russian Far East, I try to find compromises and to show the current situation from a different point of view.
I myself never believed anything divides Russians and Ukrainians. I do not see any difference. Since I was a kid in school, I always knew that we are in this together and I am not talking only about Russians and Ukrainians. I feel the same way traveling anywhere in the world, visiting friends in different countries. I thought I should do something, that I should say something about love and friendship, instead of war and aggression.
Engelina Georgievna and Viktor Kuzmich live in Kharkov, Ukraine. This is where the project began, with Yushkos Russian mother and Ukrainian father. They met in college at Kharkov State University, and have lived together for the past 50 years.
Alexander Fedorovich is Russian. A WWII veteran and the former captain of the Crimean Partisan, he was born in Siberia. Tatyana Grigoryevna is Ukrainian. Theyve been together for nearly 30 years. Three years ago, Alexander started suffering from Alzheimers disease, and Tatyana is now his primary caretaker. They live together in Crimea.
Born in Odessa, Alexey is Ukrainian. Olga is Russian. Their love story started three years ago with a photograph. While on vacation in Odessa, Olga wanted a photographer to take some pictures of her, and she found Alexey. They now live together near Moscow with their baby daughter, Liza.
Dima was born in Moscow, and Vlada is from Kiev. After meeting in the Caucasus, their relationship was long-distance, at first. Today, they live together in New York City with their 6-month-old son, Lev.
Marina is from Kiev, Ukraine, Eugeny was born in Rostovskaya region, Russia. They live together in Moscow with their 6 children. Ksenia (on photo) is the youngest - six years old. They met each other living in the same village near Moscow. Now they live in Pereyaslavl where Evgeny serves as a priest.
Sergey is from Donetsk. Alla was born in Ufa, Russia. They met each other in 2006 during a Christian Orthodox forum in Kiev. One year later, Alla moved to Kiev, where the couple has lived ever since. They have two children, Dasha (7) and Lesha (3), and at least once a year they visit relatives in Russia.
Igor is a musician from Lugansk region, Ukraine. Olga was born in Korolev, Russia. They have met each other during a concert when Igor performed in Korolev. They are together for 17 years and have two daughters, Yana and Veronika.
Elena was born in Yaroslavl, Russia, Eugeny is from Kiev, Ukraine. They met each other near the National Academic Drama Theater before the performance. Eugeny's friend pointed to Elena and they proposed her a free ticket. It was 33 years ago. Now they live in Kiev and have two daughters.
Bohdan is Ukrainian, born and raised in western Ukraine. Irina, who lived in Norilsk until the age of 17, is Russian. They met at an intersection, where Bohdan stopped his motorbike and told Irina she would make a lovely daughter-in-law for his father. Twenty-five years later, theyre still married.
Irina is Russian, and Aleksandr is from Ukraine. His parents and relatives live in Cherkassy, Ukraine. He met Irina in 2006 while on a business trip. Ever since, theyve lived together in Moscow. In 2008, their son, Nikita, was born.
Valdis and Leyla married this March in Moscow. Their first wedding night they spent in the hotel ''Ukraine''. Valdis is Ukrainian from Kiev. Leyla was born in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. They met last summer and fell in love almost at first sight.
Valery is from Odessa, and Sveta was born in St. Petersburg. They met in Odessa, when Sveta came to visit a friend. One year later, Sveta and Valery got married. Theyre both interested in yoga, different cultures, and other sundry esoteric things.