Ukrainian war refugee photographers to exhibit in Tallinn's Vabaduse väljak

One of the photo portraits from the forthcoming 'I Choose LIfe' exhibition opening in Vabaduse väljak in Tallinn, March 10, 2023.
One of the photo portraits from the forthcoming 'I Choose LIfe' exhibition opening in Vabaduse väljak in Tallinn, March 10, 2023. Source: Tallinn City Government

A photo exhibition to open in Freedom Square (Vabaduse väljak) in central Tallinn in March will showcase the work of photographers forced to flee Ukraine due to the Russian invasion, who are now living in Estonia.

The exhibition, entitled "I Choose Life", depicts fellow Ukrainians who fled to Estonia from the war, as well as depicting their stories.

Marje Tõemäe, Head of the Cultural Department at the Tallinn Culture and Sports Department, which is organizing the exhibition, said it is important to deal with the Ukrainian war issue in a consistent way, while the conflict is ongoing.

"I believe that this photo exhibition project will help us to remember that there are tragic people in our midst whose lives have been permanently changed by this war," Tõemäe said, via a Tallinn City Government press release.

"I Choose Life" will open on Freedom Square on March 10 and will explore the experiences of Ukrainian war refugees who had arrived in Tallinn and are getting to grips with a new country and society, as well as what their former life in Ukraine was like.

It also answers questions about how they have adapted in Estonia, where they live and work now, and where and how they see themselves in five years' time. 

Four Ukrainian war refugees have photographed their compatriots, and will also write short stories about each of them.

They are: Daria Prasko (34), originally from Novaya Kakhovka, Kherson Oblast and who for the past 10 years had lived and worked in Kharkiv. She started her career as a photographer in 2010, has also worked as a designer and came to Estonia with her mother and 8-month-old son. She is studying to become a web designer, via a distance learning course.

Maksym Bilozor (17), from Dnipro, arrived in Estonia on 6 March last year, and has been interested in photography for three years, with architecture and portraits his strongest interests. He is a first-year student of cross-media at the Baltic Institute of Film, Media and Arts, Tallinn University.

Yuliia Dvornichenko (27), from Mariupol, who after graduating with a Master's degree in Organizational Management in 2018, became interested in photography. Yuliia arrived in Tallinn on March 21 last year, and is studying English and also plans to study Estonian. Portraits, couple and family photos are her main specialty.

Natalia Fomina (39) came to Tallinn from Odessa with her two children on March 7 last year. Natalia has a degree in economics and worked in this field for several years, while she has been working as a photographer for eight years, specializing in pictures of children and families. Via the Estonian Unemployment Fund (Töötukassa), she has also studied graphic design, though has yet to find employment in this yet, but hopes to do so.

Russia's military aggression against Ukraine, which began on Estonian Independence Day - February 24, 2022 - has led to one of the largest refugee crises of our times.

4.8 million people have registered as war refugees, while according to the Estonian Social Insurance Board (SKA), nearly 119,000 people have arrived in Estonia.

Over 65,000 of these people have stayed, with more than 13,800 registered in Tallinn. 


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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