My Mom Wants to Go Back Home
Exhibition: 20 Jul – 23 Sep 2023
PHOTO MUSEUM IRELAND
Meeting House Square
D02 X406 Dublin
"My Mom Wants To Go Back Home"
Exhibition: 20 July – 2 September 2023
"I’m curious, how were people feeling and what were they doing the day before the Second World War?" I thought about it for a moment. "Well, I don’t know," I told my friend. "Probably, the same as us".
We finished the dinner and took a walk around Kyiv city centre. We sat in a small cafe to drink cappuccinos and gossip. I went home early, feeling a wave of anxiety.
Early the next morning, I was lying in bed in complete darkness. Suddenly, I heard the sound of an explosion. I turned on my phone. The news declared: "Putin Invades Ukraine."
My mom was still offline, so I decided to give her a couple more hours of peaceful rest in my native city, Kryviy Rih. When we finally spoke around 7 a.m. on February 24, I heard sounds on my mother’s end. They too were explosions. That’s how our journey started.
My mom refused to take a train ride to join me and travel west, so I went to Kryvyi Rih to pick her up.
In a course of one week I had to abandon my two homes: my little cosy apartment in Kyiv city centre, that I bought just a couple years ago and didn’t even finish renovating; and my mother’s home, where I was born and raised, and where I was coming back every month to spend time with my parents.
In the next few days we went from our hometown through Uzhgorod, Mali Selmentsi, Kosice, Budapest, Munich to finally arrive in the Netherlands to become war refugees.
Never in my life could I imagine myself as such.
In a documentary diary project My Mom Wants To Go Back Home I attempt to understand and accept this new identity through following the story of my mother.
Since we left our homes, documenting my mother's journey has given me a deeper understanding of the nature of relationships, home, age and traditions. I believe that through the intimate lens of my project other people will also be able to relate better to what's happening in Ukraine. Because not everyone has an experience of fleeing the war, but each of us has parents that we care about.
Hanna Hrabarska (b.1986) is an Ukrainian photographer, visual artist, and photo journalist.
Before the war in Ukraine, Hanna was running a small portrait studio in the center of Kyiv. Over the last decade she has established herself as a freelance photographer, photo journalist and documentary artist — with both commissioned and autonomous work. For some time she photographed music bands and techno DJs touring around the world. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Journalism from the National University of Kiev-Mohyla Academy, Kyiv (2010).
In the course of her now twelve-year career in photography, Hanna’s work was published in numerous media outlets, such as Die ZEIT, VOGUE, FORBES, Cicero, NRC and others. Her photos were exhibited in galleries in France, Germany, Norway and USA. Her most recent and on-going project "My mom wants to go back home" — about the experience of fleeing from Ukraine — has already been shown in 10 European countries. Her photography has been part of a group show at this year’s Venice Biennale (“This is Ukraine; Defending Freedom”).
Since 2021 Hanna has been National Photographer at UN Women, Ukraine (a United Nations organisation dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women).
She has been teaching photography courses at the online art & photography school SKVOT, an Ukrainian creative hub based in Kyiv.