Nine Dialogues: Conflict in Context
Poster in the city of Odesa, on the Black Sea, depicting a trilogy of attacks on Ukraine’s independence by Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and now by Russia (represented by the white Z used to identify Russian combat vehicles). © 2023 Benjamin Busch
I'm seeking the presence of something too immense to portray by any known scale. It’s more a process of mapping a national psyche by wandering its streets, sleuthing, capturing its messages in alleyways and marketplaces, its quiet domestic manifestations. I look for absences more than vulgar displays of damage, how war fills in the cracks it makes, the commonplace terrors at the edge of its gyre where it washes in as art.
I prefer the strange space where the intimate is also public, Woman Reading a Letter by Johannes Vermeer rather than Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Son. This is often what I find missing in the mainstream view of conflict.
I’ve curated this folio largely as a collection of pictures within pictures, advertisements, graffiti, propaganda, memorials, Ukraine’s idiosyncratic portrait of itself at war. All of these photographs were taken during my second and third journeys through Lviv, Kyiv, Kharkiv, Bahkmut, Dnipro, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Odesa, and the places in between during October of 2022 and August of 2023.