On February 24, 2022, the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine. According to President Putin it is a “military operation” to denazify Ukraine. In reality, it is a war of aggression, a reaction to the rapprochement of a sovereign country to the West. For many Ukrainians, this came as no surprise. In fact, their country has been at war with Russia since 2014, when it annexed Crimea and has since supported the two pro-Russian self-proclaimed republics Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.
The Ukrainian resistance to the Russian invasion is fierce, courageous and surprisingly strong. Not only the regular army is fighting back, civilians have also armed themselves and are taking part in the battle.
In Ukraine – Hundred Hidden Faces the French artist/photographer Émeric Lhuisset shows us over a hundred armed civilians who are part of this resistance movement. He photographed them from the back, since the danger of recognition with frontal portraits would be too great. He did make them though, in the hope that someday, after the expulsion of the enemy, their faces can be shown.
In 2014, Lhuisset photographed 100 protesters of the Revolution of Dignity (Euromaidan) and asked them two questions:
– ‘What would you like to see happening now?’
– ‘What do you think will happen?’
In retrospect, their answers – published in the book Maydan – Hundred Portraits in 2014 – were often prophetic. Now, eight years later, he asked citizens in various places in Ukraine the same two questions. A fighting spirit, hope and desire for freedom colour their answers. Ukraine – A Hundred Hidden Faces pays tribute to their courage and conviction.
Similar to the 2014 publication, Ukraine – A Hundred Hidden Faces is printed in rotation offset on tabloid sized paper. Its 240 pages lend themselves to being glued easily to the walls of galleries as much the street.
Ukraine - Hundred Hidden Faces
The base for Ukraine – Hundred Hidden Faces is a large format book, printed in rotation offset that also serves as the basis for exhibitions, be in galleries or on the street. Gallery exhibitions can be customised by adding large format inkjet portraits and/or by mixing with image/text combinations from Maydan – Hundred Portraits, that was carried out in a similar way. This 2014 project, also by Emeric Lhuisset, was dealing with the Revolution of Dignity (Euromaidan) in Ukraine. The pictures were taken in an improvised open-air studio on the main square in Kyiv, shortly after the Revolution of Dignity (Euromaidan) took place.
The exhibition started in Amsterdam at an art venue (Framer Framed), two weeks later Emeric Lhuisset was gluing the pages of the book to the wall of Sloviansk in the Donbass, to show the local population what the people in Kyiv who chased president Yanukovych look like and what they think, thus countering Russian propaganda. The exhibition was subsequently shown in Kyiv as well as numerous places in Europe, including the WARM Festival in Sarajevo and FRAC in Sète (FR).