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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Maidan in France

Hanna HRABARSKA: “People abroad did not understand what was going on in our country”
7 April, 2014 - 17:15
Photo courtesy of the author

Ukrainian revolution has reached the capital of the world fashion. However, it is only an echo in photos. The project of Ukrainian photographers “Maidan. Human Factor,” about which The Day wrote at the end of last year, is now on display in French cities. The works include as well the photos of The Day’s reporter Artem Slipachuk. With the assistance of French non-commercial organization Konstell network, people in Paris and Metz have been able to see the moments of Maidan.

The exhibit set out on its tour in Paris, in a gallery in Montmartre, near the oldest church in French capital, the Church of Saint Peter of Montmartre. The organizers say the visitors were different: there were families with children, youth, and many retired people who travel – a usual phenomenon in Europe. Among the visitors there were also representatives of Ukrainian diaspora in Paris.

“Even Ukrainians who were on a drive-by visit in France came to our exhibit,” says Hanna HRABARSKA, a representative of the team of photographers who created the project “Maidan. Human factor.” “Four young boys came. We thought they were ordinary visitors. But they turned out to be a Ukrainian combined team in modern dance. The boys came from Dnipropetrovsk and Donetsk to Paris to a competition and went to see the exhibit. The first thing they said was ‘Glory to Ukraine!’ We were moved. They even asked to take the advertising bill with them as a souvenir.”

However, not only our compatriots, but foreigners as well took interest in Ukrainian exhibit. “A native Parisian, a retired teacher, 84-year-old Josette entered the gallery,” Hanna recalls. “After she looked through the pictures, the woman started to ask us questions about the situation in Ukraine, showing great knowledge of the subject. When we asked, ‘How do you know so much?’ Josette replied, ‘I must take interest, because it’s Europe.’ It was pleasant to hear these words.”

After Paris, the exhibit moved to Metz. The exhibit took place there with the assistance of the town council and Honorary Consul of Ukraine in Metz.

Hrabarska assures that many visitors were asking questions about Ukraine. “People abroad did not understand what was going on in our country. For example, when they looked at the photo where people are sleeping in churches, they asked why these protesters didn’t go home. The French have gotten used to another Euromaidan. There is a group of Ukrainians in Paris who gather for three hours every Sunday, discuss something, and leaves. Here they saw a different reality.”

By the time the exhibit came to France, “Maidan. Human factor” was updated three times, which was caused by the development of the events. But the specifics of the venues where the exposition was exhibited, i.e., galleries in churches, requested corresponding “milder” photos. “We were given the premises free of charge, therefore the owners asked not to show photos depicting bloody events or politics. They wanted more to show humaneness, emotions, the face of Maidan,” Hanna says.

Having stirred widespread interest abroad, the photo project will continue its tour across France. Next cities to host it will be Nance and Strasbourg, where the exhibit will go in May.

By Anna SVENTAKH, The Day
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