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"Our endurance must be long". Olena Huseynova analyses the Photo of the Week

Farewell to the military man, poet, and photographer Maksym Kryvtsov, Kyiv, 11 January 2024, Yevhen Zavhorodniy

On 11 January, Kyiv said goodbye to Maksym "Dali" Kryvtsov. He was a volunteer, a soldier, a junior sergeant, and a tutor at the Motley Raccoons children's camp. He was also a poet. In December 2023, at the very beginning of a brilliant literary career, Maksym Kryvtsov published his first book of poetry. We will never know what his poetic voice would have become, how it would have changed and matured.

The funeral took place in St Michael's Cathedral and then on Maidan Nezalezhnosti. His voice and poems were heard over the funeral procession, which moved through the streets of Kyiv from the Cathedral to the Maidan.

Yevhen Zavhorodnyi's photo was taken on the Maidan. The black and white photograph swallows up all the colors of farewell. It is impossible to see the Ukrainian pixel of Maksym's brothers, the purple of the violets, tulips, and irises carried to the farewell, recalling the line from Maksym's poem about violets budding in spring. The stripes and lines of the girl's cat are not visible, nor is the red scarf that another girl is trying to weave, as the family and friends of Maksym were remembering his life. Moreover, the photo is taken in such a way that it swallows not only the colors with which those who loved Maksym try so desperately to fill their farewell but also those who came to say goodbye to him. The contours of their bodies are blurred, the outlines of their faces erased, and it is impossible to recognize anyone. They are all on the other side of reality. And only Maksym's body, in an open coffin, is on this side. This almost surreal effect, the absence of those close to the one who is gone, captures the tragedy that permeates our lives. It refers to Maxim's touching poem, which Zavhorodniy chose as the caption for his photo. In the poem, the transparent memories of childhood, when you had to find money for the candy Southern Night, are transformed into a black reality in which you have to search for the bodies of dead comrades so that their loved ones can say goodbye to them. The poem ends with a ruthless line about the war, which does not come to an end, but people do.

Those we are saying goodbye to today, those the Russian Federation is taking away from us, remain with us. But they remain with a deep sense of void. A void where their voices, their words, their deeds used to be. A void where you could have held their hand, written, or called them. Their absence becomes more real than our daily life. It absorbs everything and becomes symbolic. I stare at the black and white photo of Maksym Kryvtsov's farewell on Independence Square and ask my colleague: "How was it taken?" "Long exposure," she replies. She explains that the shutter was open for such a long time that the light had access to the camera's sensor for longer than usual. I think to myself: "Our endurance must be long," forgetting that we are talking about photo technology.

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Olena Huseynova is a Ukrainian writer, radio host, and radio producer. She has been working at Radio Kultura (Suspilne) since 2016. She is an editor-in-chief in the department responsible for radio theatre and literary programs. Since 26 February 2022, Olena has worked as a live presenter of a round-the-clock information radio marathon at Ukrainian Radio (Suspilne). She is the author of two books of poetry, Open Rider (2012) and Superheroes (2016). She also writes essays and short fiction.

Evgeniy Zavgorodniy has been filming for Ukrainian media and foreign agencies for about 20 years. He began his career by documenting the events of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004.

His photos have been published by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Guardian, Deutsche Welle and others.

Before the full-scale invasion, he had been photographing the Ukrainian parliament for several years. Since the beginning of the invasion, he has documented the consequences of Russian aggression. 

Yevhen's work has been exhibited at group exhibitions in Ukraine and in the EU.

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