Fast food and fist fights: capturing teenage life in Ukraine

‘Life here is like bipolar disorder’ — Photographer Nazar Furyk returns to his hometown of Kolomyia, in Western Ukraine, to shoot the everyday lives of local teens.
Vodka, fights, fast food, and skinny dipping – Nazar Furyk’s stark shots of life in Ukraine are, despite the war-torn location, all-too-familiar. The Kolomyia-born photographer has been capturing his hometown for years, taking pictures of the locals and landscapes for as long as he can remember. “Life here is like bipolar disorder; everything is great, everything is bad, sometimes neutral,” he says of the town. “I’m good with everything.”
For his latest photo series, he turns his lens to the teenagers of Kolomyia. Although growing up in a country riven by conflict, Nazar captures a surprisingly mundane, relatable reality. The shots – which are beautifully bleak, grainy and monochrome – show a group concerned solely with relaxing, drinking, sex, and drug-taking. “Youth culture is pretty similar all over the world,” Nazar says. “It’s shown badly in Ukraine though, and that’s why foreign readers think of the old USSR stereotype – vodka vodka vodka.”
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Previously a photojournalist, Nazar was working on the Ukraine frontline in 2015 along with UK photographer (and Huck favourite) Christopher Nunn. However, the trip made him reassess his original ambitions. “I went to see the action that was shown in the work of other photographers who’ve been there, but it was all different,” he remembers. “It was really quiet and neutral. Probably I didn’t get what I was looking for. Then my thoughts about war and war photography changed.”

Now, it seems, his work is focused more on the everyday – though his ambitions remain lofty. “A photo is powerful because of the moments and seconds it was taken,” he adds. “Those moments can shock or turn the world upside down.”

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