Where the Rivers Come Together
Where the Rivers Come Together is a photography and writing project that explores the surprising diversity that exists in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, which is home to as many as 133 different national communities. Although the city is dominated by Ukrainians and Russians, its spirit and public life are defined by the much smaller groups whose influence extends well beyond their actual numbers, creating an unmistakable heterogeneity in the city’s language, culture, and cuisine.
Mykolaiv was created by Prince Grigory Potemkin at the confluence of the Southern Bug and Ingul Rivers for the purpose of building warships. But at a time when Ukraine and so many parts of the globe are enmeshed in war and conflict, Mykolaiv’s diverse communities have lived almost entirely in peace for generations. This paradox is explored by focusing on individual members of these communities, interviewing them to learn more about their personal experiences and to better understand their strategies for peaceful coexistence. They made portraits of the participants and then paired them in diptychs with a place or object of great importance to each person’s cultural heritage.
In an article accompanying the photographs, the artists highlight the very personal, face to face approach of Mykolaiv residents as a key reason the city has been able to maintain peace and friendship over the years. However, in the age of fake news and the instant amplification of prejudice and hatred, younger community members are turning to social media as their most frequent means of engagement, raising important questions for the future. You can read the full article in the journal Krytyka here.