In the world's first real-time war, videos of Russian rocket attacks on Ukrainian homes and civilian infrastructure can be found almost immediately on the Internet. Terrible battles at the front, where the Ukrainian military is desperately defending the land from Russian invaders, can be observed online on social networks.
To show the terrible reality that has become the everyday life of Ukrainians, a French photographer with Ukrainian roots, Youry Bilak, created the "Dawn Photo Project” dedicated to war children to reflect the terrible environment Ukrainian children find themselves in.
So each photo has its own story. The house in Mariupol where four-month-old Svyatoslav lived, was bombed. His mother Anna was forced to hide with him for 65 days in the Azovstal steel plant under constant Russian shelling. When Anna and Svyatoslav left the plant, they underwent filtration, a process of interrogation and scrutiny by the Russian forces, but they were lucky not to be deported to Russia.
"My project had three goals. First of all, during both my trips to Ukraine, I handed over a pickup truck for the military at the front, for which I collected money in advance. Secondly, I collaborated with a French non-profit association that helped me load cars with medical supplies and things that a military hospital in Dnipro needs. And thirdly, thanks to the fact that both times I was driving cars, I was able to choose my own path in search of families living in the destroyed territories," Bilak explained.
In general, he is known for his original photo projects that attract attention to Ukraine. According to Bilak, his art is always aimed at supporting Ukrainian culture, because he was born into a family of Ukrainian emigrants from Bukovyna.
He started his career back in 2004, traveling to the corners of his Ukrainian roots and filming Ukrainians. In 2008 he held the exhibition "Ukrainians" to show to the world the land of his ancestors.
But the biggest public response was to the artist's project "Projectio" inspired by the events of 2014 during the Revolution of Dignity, and later the Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine.
The project re-created world-famous paintings through the prism of war. Paintings by great masters Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt van Rijn, Vincent Van Gogh are reconceived as the latest events in the modern history of Ukraine, primarily the war with Russia.
Bilak’s most famous work for Ukrainians is a remake of Ilya Repin's painting "Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks." In it, the artist showed modern defenders of Ukraine writing an imaginary letter to Putin, emphasizing the continuity of generations of Ukrainians who are forced to defend their land and at the same time preserve Cossack valor and humor.
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