Між містами — фотоісторія Ірини Стасюк

On the Roads / Between Cities — Photo Story by Iryna Stasiuk

Iryna Stasiuk

A travelogue, travel notes, and an odyssey novel have been of interest to mankind since the era of the first globalization — the time of Alexander the Great. Iryna Stasiuk believes that the most interesting things worth telling about or photographing can be found on the roads, especially between cities. She photographs the roadside and the endless asphalt of the road — the infrastructure of her travels. Zaborona publishes fragments of Stasiuk’s road trip notes (as well as photographs) about her relationship with her favorite car, Ukraine’s inner Alps, and her plans to travel the country.

I have always loved to go somewhere — the main thing is to be near the window. I dreamed about how one day I would have a car and be able to stop anywhere and anytime. A car is freedom; a small house where it is warm, cozy and there is a sense of security. And also responsibility.

As a student, I went hundreds of times by bus to my parents in the Volyn region, watched how the same places changed: due to time, seasonality, because of people.

For 4 years now I have never gone to my parents by bus. I have to do it somehow.

I like to watch people from the car. People behave as if no one is looking at them. 

Most of our trips are one-day: to go not far from the city, go to Pylypets, go to Borzhava and return to Lviv at night. Sometimes we managed to go overnight, and thus — further. Often without a goal, without a well-thought-out route, just a favorite or still unknown road.

Our largest road trips were across Europe with driving experience of several months. On the fourth month, after we bought a car, we went to Transylvania, through the Transfagarasan highway. In less than 5 days we drove more than 2000 km mostly on mountain roads and spent 41 hours on the road. A month later we rented a car for the first time and drove from Naples to Calabria. My favorite part of the vacation was the road trip, without a specific route and booked accommodation. Due to Covid and now war many plans remain unrealized. But in my opinion, it taught Ukrainians to appreciate their own places. So we stopped dreaming about the Alps, and with no less enthusiasm, we are going to explore the Zhydachiv district.

My biggest regret is that I did not manage to go on a big trip across Ukraine. I will do it after the victory.

Traveling to new places, you do not know what is waiting for you around the corner. What is behind that hill and behind that forest? So we saw abandoned churches, unpopular mansions, and palaces, ancient cemeteries, fantastic shapes of modern churches, and course, a lot of impressive nature.

New pavement, sidewalks, lights, new gas stations, and roadside cafes, renovated houses, shining new churches, restored old ones, more crosses, Madonnas and chapels, stronger bridges, sown fields, dried swamps, artificial ponds, cut down trees, planted trees, fewer cows, chickens, geese, carts with horses, horses without carts, more road signs, cameras, and neon lights. In the end, the people are different.

Everything is quickly forgotten. It was so that you return somewhere, and there is no longer what you came for (once there was no whole forest, only stumps, and mutilated mushroom beds).

There are constant reminders along the way that life is fragile. According to statistics, a road accident occurs in Ukraine every three minutes, one person is injured every 15 minutes, and one person dies every three hours. 

To appreciate otherness, not to look for Paris, Switzerland, and Maldives in Ukraine. To document what we have now. Especially the simple things that seem so familiar that they are overlooked. But in the long run, they may seem unusual for the next generations. I love looking at old photographs. Our modern photos will be old one day too.

About the author:
Iryna Stasiuk was born in the early 90s in Novovolynsk, Volyn region, graduated from the Faculty of History of the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv. She has been interested in photography for more than a third of her life but has been actively taking pictures only for the last few years. Iryna is still in search of form and content in her photography. The photos in this series were taken from 2019 to 2021.