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Adrienne Surprenant Project I


Ukraine's war trauma




Tears, then trembling hands, erase the smiles that were displayed at the thought of still being alive. I have seen this scene repeated on different faces countless times in the last two months. Sometimes survival is more difficult than death. After miles of destruction, days of hiding, constant alerts, torture... deep scars dig their trenches in the thoughts. The war in Ukraine has, since February 24, displaced 12.7 million people. More than 20,000 civilians have been killed in the city of Mariupol alone, according to the Ukrainian government. 400 complaints of rape committed in Russian-occupied territories have been filed with the ombudsman. 8,000 investigations into potential war crimes are underway. Hundreds of people have called psychologists via social networks, or the hotline set up by the government. Working since March 1st on the consequences of the Russian invasion on the Ukrainian population, I have started to collect chilling testimonies of collective trauma in the making. I want to continue this work for at least a year, going back to some people, and meeting others who survived, fled, or remain in the midst of the war. As I spent 5 years documenting trauma in the Central African Republic, this project is the second part of my series on conflict-induced trauma and a continuation of my work in Ukraine. Mental health is a subject that is particularly close to my heart because putting the invisible into images and naming the unspeakable horror is important to remind us that, even after the bombing has stopped, the war continues in the intimate lives and thoughts of those who have suffered it.

Canon Europe is a sponsor of the Hamburg Portfolio Review
Behörde für Kultur und Medien Hamburg is a sponsor of the Hamburg Portfolio Review
Altonaer Museum is a sponsor of the Hamburg Portfolio Review
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