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"Feel that angle inside you." Olena Huseynova analyses the Photo of the Week

We see photos every day and everywhere. But what kind of images surround us? What are they for? What ideas do they imply?

Today, we are announcing a new column - photo of the week analysis with Ukrainian radio presenter and writer Olena Huseynova, in which we will interpret what the photos taken by Ukrainian photographers are saying or trying to say to us. Let's start with a photo by Oleh Palchyk, taken at the Kherson railway station on December 27.


Photo taken in Kherson by Oleh Palchyk

Oleh Palchyk's photo reminds us of railway safety posters, the ones that urged workers to "be in shape" and always wear an orange safety vest. Or those that insisted that it was dangerous to crawl under the wagons. Posters that may still decorate the walls of Ukrainian railway stations.

A green goods wagon and a station worker in an orange vest cleaning the platform. An ordinary landscape passing by outside the train window or seen when trying to quickly smoke a cigarette at a shortstop. A little nostalgic, as if it were out of the stories of Hryhor Tyutyunnyk or the poems of Serhiy Zhadan. A station where nothing happens. A life that goes on even when it is out of sight. That is what the photo looks like after a glance.

If you stumble upon it when scrolling through Instagram if you do not zoom in, look at it, or get close to it. Then it's easy not to notice the roof of the wagon, easy to explain why the sliding doors are held on a bracket, opening up triangles of the wagon's inside. And it's easy to think that the man in the orange vest is just sweeping rubbish off the platform. But it's that rubbish in the foreground that makes you stop and zoom in on the photo. It makes you go back and walk through the photo again. From the broken roof of the wagon, the shrapnel inside, the torn and twisted locks, and the smashed doors, to the dirt in the foreground, which turns out to be broken glass, the same grey color that is said to be the main color of war.

This photo was taken at Kherson railway station on the morning of 27 December 2023, the day after the Russian military attacked the station. It is already known that the attack took place a few minutes before the departure of the evacuation train and lasted for two hours, that almost 150 civilians were at the station at that time, that a police lieutenant was killed and his colleagues sustained shrapnel wounds, and that when the situation stabilized, the people were taken by bus to Mykolaiv, where reserve wagons were waiting for them, and they were driven further.

This photo has it all: fear, anxiety, loss, waiting, evacuation protocol. And there is also a demand in it, a demand to make an effort. A demand to stay alert. A demand to fix in your memory the angle at which the broken green door of the goods wagon is hanging at the Kherson railway station on 27 December 2023. Note that it is at this angle that the man in the orange vest bends down to clean the platform in the aftermath of the Russian attack.

And feel that angle inside you.

We are grateful to for their support of the photography community and for helping to empower Ukrainian voices.


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.


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