Poteryashka for Second Thoughts magazine – a piece about families of soldiers who have gone missing during the war in the East of Ukraine.
At the moment there are more than 600 open missing persons cases registered with the ICR due to the war in Ukraine. Second Thoughts invited me and British journalist Lily Hyde, who has been writing about missing people in Ukraine and Georgia for a couple of years, to make a story about two of them – and their mothers who refuse to accept their death. Hope was what we were supposed to explore.
Second Thoughts reflects on journalism: what agenda media set, how journalists define what's important and what doubts they have about their work. And the task was to make a much more personal piece than we usually do. So we went to Dnipro together and spent two days with two families. We listened.
Lily didn't want me to illustrate her text, in a usual way, so we decided to put the visual part first. On our way back to Kyiv we talked a lot about what we heard. It was no more a story about missing persons. It was a story about waiting which turned into some limbo where time stopped, the life itself stopped. What we also noticed was how often mothers used space metaphors to describe their or their sons' isolation.
We tried to mention and depict the whole system of symbols and superstitions our heroines live in, signs and rituals nurturing hope. For example, one woman kept up-turned glasses on the cupboard – there's a belief it helps to find something that was lost. But there's no up or down in space.
Both women also mentioned birds as a sign of news. News came but have never explained what happened to their sons though. In the end, their hope is quite a dark miracle. It keeps them isolated from any kind of life, and without it they'd suffocate.