- By Rebecca Frankel
Rebecca Frankel is deputy editor at Foreign Policy. She is the author of War Dogs: Tales of Canine Heroism, History, and Love a New York Times bestselling book about canines in combat, the subject of her regular Friday column "Rebecca's War Dog of the Week," featured on The Best Defense. She has appeared as a guest on Conan O'Brien, BBC World News, and the Diane Rehm Show among others.
On the side of Hrushevskogo Street in Maidan Square, just next to the barricades and the swarm of protesters there was a bus stop. There was snow on the ground and the space looked a bit cramped, but it was as good a place as any to arrange a small, makeshift photo booth. Which is what photojournalist Anastasia Taylor-Lind did by hanging a black backdrop from the bus stop’s roof so she could take portraits of the protesters in Kiev.
Most of Taylor-Lind’s work is portraiture, and she was in Ukraine last week as part of another project — a personal venture centered on population decline in Europe. The work, as she described it from her home in London during a phone interview, has a roving, encompassing scope, one that looks at everything from hospice care to the younger generations’ sense of disenchantment. The majority of the countries she has (and will be) visiting are, as she describes, transitional countries, formerly under Communist rule and struggling with systemic, deep-rooted problems. Photographing the protesters in Kiev was a loose but natural fit.
With a stand-off between police and protesters, the air in the square was calm. "Morale is relatively high," says Taylor-Lind, "guys are camped out sitting around fires. People are bringing food, civilians are coming to visit. Women have put the colors of the Ukrainian flag in their hair or flowers. Children wear flags or child-sized military helmets."
She was struck by what the protesters were wearing, how they’d pieced together their own kind protester’s uniform — unofficial, yes, but distinctly militaristic. Many of the men wore black bomber jackets and black helmets. They carried homemade weapons and shields. Most everything and everyone was covered in a black soot. With the help of her fixer, Taylor-Lind stopped passersby and asked if they wouldn’t mind having their picture taken. Of the hundred or so people they asked, 98 said yes.
Taylor-Lind was shooting with her Bronica, a camera that is held down by the waist and whose photographs she won’t see until she develops the film. But one of her colleagues crafted an arm so that her iPhone is poised above the viewfinder, recording everything that she sees through the camera’s lense. The view captured in the resulting videos (above and below) is unique, the effect haunting and beautiful — literally moving pictures. And though the viewer is now two lenses away from her subjects, the sensation is that we are somehow more connected, not only to the protesters but to Taylor-Lind. We see what she sees. We hear what she hears. We witness the moment she exposes the frame. This is the way, she says, she’s seen the world for the last 10 years.
Above, Taylor-Lind poses with anti-government protesters in Maidan Square on Feb. 7.
Credit: Anastasia Taylor-Lind