In april 2022, a post appeared on the Instagram account of Ukrainian artist my_pet_spider, where she published the first ten secrets that were anonymously shared with her by her followers. The project has turned into a virtual confessional where Ukrainians can confess their innermost fears and experiences. Visual producer of Zaborona Ivan Chernichkin asked photographer Garry Efimov to visualize these secrets. In total, the photographer took more than a thousand photos, of which 39 were included in the final publication, which most clearly visualize the secrets of my_pet_spider subscribers.
“Even before the war, I wanted to work with the theme of other people’s confessions,” the artist says. “The war escalated and accelerated this process: there was a feeling that it was necessary to do here and now, and only then to determine the form of representation. The project became a place where everyone can be seen and heard at least for a couple of minutes. The chaotic register of funny, painful, disgusting and family secrets includes more than one and a half thousand confessions.
Garry Efimov admits that many of the fears described by others resonate with him. He explains: “I tried to build a visual series on a kind of counterbalance: I contrasted the nakedness with the frost, the fragility of the body — with the hard ground, the dynamics of life — with dead immobility. I wanted to emphasize the cyclical nature of life and the interconnection of opposites in the world: where there is a beginning, there is an end and vice versa. So where there are fears, there are also ways to overcome them.”
Love during the time:
- A month after the war, I realized that I love someone else, but I can’t say it because of what is happening, because I’m afraid that the person will lose hope
- I think I’m making a mistake. I swore I would never hurt myself and love this person, but this process has started again. I hope I won’t get worse
- My boyfriend of five years decided to leave me last week. Now I don’t give a fuck about the war
- A couple of months before the war, I realized that I was in love, but still did not dare to confess it
Pro-Russian relatives / friends / loved ones:
- I want to punch in the face my relatives and friends who continue to tolerate Russian “oppositionists” and all those who use the phrase “brotherly peoples”, but “they are good”, “they do not support the war”, but things are different… And you lie to yourself and justify those who should be punished
- I hate my mother, who stands for Russia. I despise her. I’m afraid I won’t be able to forgive her after what she said.
Kill yourself. The end:
- This homeless winter will settle in my heart and mow down with a sharp blade the innocence of the week; and the orange color from the sun will be the only element that will lead to a willing desire to fall into eternal sleep in the snow
- I feel like hell and I don’t know what to do about it. I’m just a teenager, and so much shit has happened/is happening in my life that every day I think: how nice it would have been if four years ago I could have pulled myself together and ended it all
- I am ashamed that while people are dying, I, who managed to get out of Mariupol, want to kill myself more and more every day. I am ashamed of the thoughts that it would be better if a shell hit me, but I can not get rid of them. Maybe it would have been better if I had died then.
- Every day I hope that I will return to Ukraine and I tell everyone around me that everything will be fine and everything will be over, but I don’t believe it anymore
- What if all those who left don’t come back? It is scary. It is very scary that after the victory Ukraine will be left alone among the ruins
- Sometimes it seems to me that I have no future.
- When I think about how many things will have to be changed in society, in addition to rebuilding everything from scratch, when I think about people who will have to sell their belongings on the streets, about hunger, about children who have lost limbs and parents, about the whole scar of war on us forever, I just want to kill myself, because I don’t have the strength to take it all in and/or digest it
Not enough to win:
I keep thinking that I am not doing enough for our victory
I do not suffer enough / want to survive horrors:
- I want to get to hot spots to get this experience and then be cool after the victory. I think it’s like going through life and I will never feel miserable again after this. However, it’s scary to ask to go there because I don’t know how to do anything and everyone will think that I’m not doing my job in my place, but just showing off.
- Too often I think that it would be morally easier for me to “experience” the war in hot spots or directly as a volunteer/paramedic at the front than in conditional safety. I know that this is complete nonsense and a devaluation of the experience and suffering of people who went through hell and managed to get out.
- I feel guilty that there is no fighting in my city, when people are dying every day nearby, and I subconsciously expect something in my city
I am a little upset that I have not seen a single corpse during the war in real life. At the same time, I am sincerely glad that I did not see, that I was not in this situation. On the other hand, I seem to lack this experience. I do not want to see it. However, I secretly hope that when I return, I will find at least a human skeleton in my forest.
I buried her in my thoughts:
I buried my mother in my mind because she did not want to evacuate or hide during the air raid alerts. I decided to believe that disregard for the threat is her responsibility and “natural selection”. It is very cruel, but it is the only way I stop crying in pain and do something to live on and be able to transfer money to her. Only in this way, I realized that I am completely alone and capable of anything.
I am afraid that my city will be forgotten. I am from Donetsk and nobody cares about it now. But it was not up to it for 8 years. There are no such old photos from there as from Bucha or Kharkiv. There is no news from there now either. I left 8 years ago and it saved me. But the city did not. It cannot leave itself. There is a lot of news now, but there are two important names missing — the names of the cities that have suffered all these years.
I feel like I have lost my sense of home wherever I am. Now nowhere will feel like home.
I stopped reading the news / can’t stand it / distance myself:
I’m sick of the war content, I haven’t read the news for three days, and it will continue.
I don’t want to stay / will return:
- I do not know how to explain to my friends my complete lack of desire to return to Ukraine. Everyone judges me, it is so exhausting. I do not want to talk to them. They are my only friends. I want to forget everything: them, my home, my family full of collaborators, and Ukraine, and I want to start a new life somewhere abroad.
- I do not want to return to Ukraine, because no one is waiting for me there.
It hurts me, but I do not want to stay in Ukraine anymore — I see nothing here, it hurts me here. I feel ashamed because of this, because everyone either wants to go to Ukraine, or did not leave, or returned. After returning to Kharkiv, I want to leave here most of all, I feel bad here. It’s a shame.
- I have fucking nightmares almost every night. Dead relatives, helicopters, the military saying that a nuclear war has started, people in panic, the sound of fighter jets, blood, explosions, lots of loud explosions, noise, explosions next to the house, the feeling of imminent death… I’m tired of waking up broken. I’m afraid to fall asleep again.
I don’t feel anything at all from the photos of corpses
Don’t make love to:
I dated a guy from Russia long distance for a year or more (three months after the full-scale invasion inclusive). We met abroad while studying. I tried three times to make the breakup not too traumatic for both of us. However, I know that he is sure that we broke up because he is Russian, although that was not the reason. I completely understand why he thinks so — in the first days of the invasion I couldn’t even talk to him, and after that, I accused him of weakness and why he doesn’t try to do anything, not to mention protests, etc. I’m just torn up inside with this feeling of guilt about it and I can’t just erase what I said. The worst part is that I’m sure he’s not the only person I’ve caused a lot of pain to, and now I don’t even know how I’m going to get all my relationships back to pre-24. I feel like dissolving and disappearing.
Shame / guilt:
I fled abroad in the spring, leaving my girlfriend under fire in Kharkiv. I do not know why I did not call her with me then, and I understand that it was a pig. For 8 months now, I have been asking her to come every day, but it’s all in vain: she no longer believes me. It hurts to know that a person chose the risk of dying from a rocket, just not to live with such a brute as me.
The adult life has begun, and I don’t know how to live it. Thanks, Mom.
- Psychological problems, which I was struggling with before the war for almost 4 years, have been maximized. I am not ready to take up arms. I am not ready to die. I feel guilty about it.
- I feel very guilty because I am sitting in the West when my friend hears explosions every day. I feel ashamed when I want something to hit our city so I could say “see, we have a war too”.
Although I am 20, I have never been kissed. So I think a lot about the fact that I can die from a shell without having done it …