Born in Ukraine but now based in Berlin, Viktoria Sorochinski, a photographer and teacher, documents these disappearing communities in her ongoing project, Lands of No-Return – which was recently shortlisted for the Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2017. Her personal connection to the villages comes from her childhood, which she spent enriching her imagination playing in the magical woods surrounding the house of her grandparents, who are now buried there.
When she returned in 2006, she was shocked by what she found. “It’s dying out – even the nature has changed,” she recalls. “There was a beautiful tree alley that led to the village, but the trees were affected by some mushroom and now they’re dead. It’s very sad.”
The project consists of two chapters. In the first, the images represent the more remote villages, some of which have already melted into the landscape, with most of the elderly subjects no longer alive. In the second, scenes of the ex-Soviet kitschy decor, still life table arrangements and wall hangings are more prominently interwoven. “It brings out something about their lifestyle in a much more intimate way, and you can feel how they live and not just see the person.”
Both chapters focus on the house interior. “For me it’s more about the psychological aspect of this whole story,” she says. “The interior somehow translates the internal space. It keeps you more inside the actual people’s life.”
“They are old and they live in this misery but they still have their pride and their land and their culture.”
viktoria-sorochinski.com This article was first published in the July issue of BJP, which can be bought in the www.thebjpshop.com