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Olivia Arthur

Olivia was born in London and grew up in the UK. Olivia studied mathematics at Oxford University and photojournalism at the London College of Printing. She began working as a photographer in 2003 after moving to Delhi and was based in India for two and a half years. In 2006 she left for Italy to take up a one-year residency with communications research center Fabrica, during which she began working on a series about women and the East-West cultural divide. This work has taken her to the border between Europe and Asia, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

She has received support from the Inge Morath Award,  the National Media Museum, OjodePez Photo Espana Award for Human Values.  In 2010 she Received the Vic Odden Award from the Royal Photographic Society 'for a notable achievement in the art of photography by a British photographer aged 35 or under’. In 2008 she joined Magnum Photos as a nominee and in 2013 she became a full member. In 2010 she co-founded Fishbar, a space for photography in London with Philipp Ebeling. Her first book Jeddah Diary about young women in Saudi Arabia was published in 2012. In 2013 she completed an Artist Residency with Cuadro Gallery in Dubai.
http://www.oliviaarthur.com/

 

 

 

For this project Olivia worked on a story she called "Crimean diaries". She followed three Crimean families: one Russian, one Ukrainian and one Tatar. The fourth diary came as a result of search someone who felt strong identity with Ukraine or an attempt to understand why it was so hard to find such kind of people. She spent three days with each family learning their living and surrounding. She photographed things that happened with the heroes, the places they visited and tried to look at the Crimea with their eyes. The images are accomponied by short descriptions - quotes and stories about the lead characters, people they communicated with and about all of their lifestyles.

A girl wearing butterfly wings on the promenade in Sevastopol. "Crimean diaries" series, 2014

A girl wearing butterfly wings on the promenade in Sevastopol. "Crimean diaries" series, 2014

Dima's Diary

Crimea. Sevastopol. Dima standing in his living room

Crimea. Sevastopol. Dima standing in his living room

'I don't think there are any Ukrainians in Crimea' , - Dima says - 'We are all Russians'.

'Computer science and psychology are kind of the same thing. The more you know about computers the more you understand the human mind'.

From left to right:<br /> children learning karate; kids playing in the wind by the waterfront in Sevastopol; Dima with his son Slava

From left to right:
children learning karate; kids playing in the wind by the waterfront in Sevastopol; Dima with his son Slava

 

Dima's wife Olga at the dinner table at home

Dima's wife Olga at the dinner table at home

In February when things started getting tense, Dima joined his friends in staging road blocks.

'We were ready to fight the fascists if they came.'

They took shifts overnight outside government buildings.

 

From left to right: exercises on the beach; a man cycles in Victory park; residential suburbs of Sevastopol

From left to right: exercises on the beach; a man cycles in Victory park; residential suburbs of Sevastopol

 

Dima's wife Olga with their son Slava

Dima's wife Olga with their son Slava

Olga, Dima's wife, would have joined him a the road blocks if she could have, but she had to look after their son, Slava.

'I would have gone to Kiev myself if I could have', she says passionately.

From left to right: a woman sitting in Victory park; children play in her waves on the promenade in Sevastopol; beach-goers swim in the Black sea in Sevastopol

From left to right: a woman sitting on the bench in Victory park; children playing in the waves on the promenade in Sevastopol; beach-goers swimming in the Black Sea in Sevastopol

 

Dima and Olga do for a special meal to celebrate getting their Russian passports

Dima and Olga do for a special meal to celebrate getting their Russian passports

After the referendum Dima and Olga applied for their Russian passports immediately. When they received them they decided they would go for a celebratory lunch; of course they should go for their lunch on Russia Day.

Olga getting ready to go out for the Russia Day parade

Olga getting ready to go out for the Russia Day parade

'We don't believe that the gunmen who took over the airport were sent from Russia. The people here want to be part of Russia, it is a simple as that.'

Dima and Olga live a simple life: they meet their friends in the park, go to the beach.

'Water is rather cold, so Slava doesn't feel like swimming'.

From left to right:  Olga shopping for a bikini in the market; Olga with her son Slava getting ready to go out to the park; Dima going for a swim at the public beach near his house.

From left to right:  Olga shopping for a bikini in the market; Olga with her son Slava getting ready to go out to the park; Dima going for a swim at the public beach near his house.

Ismet's Diary

Ismet says his prayers at home with his grandaughter

Ismet says his prayers at home with his grandaughter

Ismet rises early for prayers. He watches some politics on TV but it makes him angry.

'Lies from the Ukrainians, lies from the Russians.'

No one is telling the truth now and in the Koran it says that if you don't tell the truth you will go to hell.'

'Changes are happening here, we are afraid, there is fear in the community. Last time there was war we were deported. Now there is war again and we are afraid.'

From left to right:  outside the temporary mosque in Orlinoye village; a prayer mat at the temporary mosque in Orlinoye village; the light in a Tartar family's house

From left to right:  outside the temporary mosque in Orlinoye village; a prayer mat at the temporary mosque in Orlinoye village; the light in a Tartar family's house

 

Ismet says his prayers at home

Ismet says his prayers at home

We came back to Ukraine, we settled in Ukraine. And now it is Russia.'

'A lot of Tartars have left Crimea' Ismet says 'they have gone to Kiev, if they have some family link they have been offered to resettle, been given jobs.'

 

From left to right: the landscape in Orlinoye village; Mostafa, Ismet's neighbor, in his rabbit house; Ismet's grandaugthter Dinara makes a dance performance at home

From left to right: the landscape in Orlinoye village; Mostafa, Ismet's neighbor, in his rabbit house; Ismet's grandaugthter Dinara makes a dance performance at home

 

Ismet with his grandson and two grandaughters

Ismet with his grandson and two grandaughters

 

Ismet and his family came back to Crimea 'when Gorbachov came into power and said that democracy would rule'. They came with high hopes but found that people were afraid of the Tartars. '

People had been told to defend themselves from us, with weapons.'

From left to right: the kitchen in a Tartar's family house; traditional food in a Tartar house; the table for a special meal in Ismet's house

From left to right: the kitchen in a Tartar's family house; traditional food in a Tartar house; the table for a special meal in Ismet's house

 

Ismet works as a doctor in the local hospital in Orlinoye village

Ismet works as a doctor in the local hospital in Orlinoye village

 

Ismet greets the local Imam at the temporary space they use while they wait for the permit to build a proper mosque.

As a religious figure in the community, Ismet attends his neighbour Mostafa's son's birthday to say prayers for the family.
'We were taught that it is important to learn languages and share with people through language. But when this was Ukraine, people didn't learn Ukrainian.'
'In the last few years with Ukraine there was a lot of corruption and we had no money, no budget in the hospital. Now medics have come from Russia and told us that the standard in the hospital is not good enough.'

 

Ismet's neighbour Alime tells the story of her family's deportation to Uzbekistan with tears in her eyes.

'I was ten years old. I remember the soldiers coming to our house. My mother asked me to pray but I didn't understand how praying would help.'

 

 

From left to right: the Imam at the temporary mosque in Orlinoye village; prayers are said at a birthday party at Ismet's neighbor's; Alima, a Crimean Tartar woman, who was deported to Uzbekistan as a child

From left to right: the Imam at the temporary mosque in Orlinoye village; prayers are said at a birthday party at Ismet's neighbor's; Alima, a Crimean Tartar woman, who was deported to Uzbekistan as a child

 

Diary of a Search

Boys gathering berries from a tree in one of the residential districts of Sevastopol

Boys gathering berries from a tree in one of the residential districts of Sevastopol

 

In a residential suburb of Sevastopol:

- 'So are there any people here who really feel Ukrainian?'
- 'Oh no. There weren't many before, and those that were have left, gone to Kiev.' Says a lady in the playground. ' You should have seen it here, every window had a Russian flag.'

'At the Ukrainian school its just a question of what language we teach in. In fact there is a petition by all the parents to change to Russian now. The children don't know Ukrainian, so they always struggle with it.'

From left to right: outside a Ukrainian school in a residential part of Sevastopol; Sevastopol bay; a view in residential suburbs of Sevastopol

From left to right: outside a Ukrainian school in a residential part of Sevastopol; Sevastopol bay; a view in residential suburbs of Sevastopol

 

Seagulls in the sky above Sevastopol

Seagulls in the sky above Sevastopol

 

A woman called Galina says she was born in Ukraine 'I have family in Western Ukraine, you could say I am Ukrainian. But I am happy about the changes, its an opportunity, we've been waiting for this.'

'If we hadn't become Russian then we'd be in a situation like they are now in Eastern Ukraine. We are thankful.'

A fruit seller tells us 'I have never seen it so organised, so together, as when they went to support the change. We used to have big May Day celebrations but nothing as enthusiastic as this.'

A man down by the chess players had been shouting out his opinions, openly pro-Ukrainian. We go in search of him… 'Why do you want to meet him? What is this about?' They eye us with suspicion, aggression even.

From left to right: Sevastopol. Cadets line up for a group photo; chess players in downtown Sevastopol; street seller in residential suburbs of Sevastopol

From left to right: Sevastopol. Cadets line up for a group photo; chess players in downtown Sevastopol; street seller in residential suburbs of Sevastopol

 

Ruslan, a pro-Ukrainian taxi driver

Ruslan, a pro-Ukrainian taxi driver

 

Ruslan, a taxi-driver, tells us that his wife's family are strongly pro-Ukrainian.

- 'Could we meet them, talk to them maybe?'
- 'No. No'.

We drive past a huge mural of Putin in a wheat field with perfect blue sky. 'I was driving the guys who came to paint it,' he told us 'They came from Moscow. But they started painting with just the yellow of the field and the blue sky. Some local Babushkas thought they were painting the Ukrainian flag and called the police.'

 

A newspaper reports the story of a village where the central church is of Ukrainian Orthodox. Inside the church the woman insists that it has always belonged to the Moscow Patriarchate.

From left to right: voting in Ukrainian Rada on TV; the wall with Vladimir Putin's portrait; the main church in Luchistoye village

From left to right: voting in Ukrainian Rada on TV; the wall with Vladimir Putin's portrait; the main church in Luchistoye village

 

A member of the Ukrainian community inside a church that was built by Ivan and his father both priests in the Ukranian Patriarchy of the orthodox church

A member of the Ukrainian community inside a church that was built by Ivan and his father both priests in the Ukranian Patriarchy of the orthodox church

 

The local Ukrainian church in Perevalnoye was on a military base, previously Ukrainian now Russian. The congregation was no longer allowed to meet.

Hearing our questions about the church in Perevalnoe, an old man guides us to the 'priest's son'. Ivan and his father had moved there 13 years previously and build a small chapel adjoining their house.

'My father and I started holding services in the chapel by our house' Ivan told us 'but it is much harder for people to travel there. We used to get 200 at the services, now we get about 70.'

'We used to be friends with everyone in the community, we didn't think about the place people came from. But now the Russians start to feel they have more power, become more aggressive. Now people think about 'sides' which were never there before.'

People tell Ivan that he should change his affiliation to the Moscow Patriarchate and then he could continue his practice in peace. But he studied in the Ukrainian church and his services are in Ukrainian, it doesn't make sense to him.

Ivan's father left for Kiev but they both hope that he returns and they finish building their church and go on working in Crimea.

 

From left to right: inside a Ukrainian church built by Ivan and his father for the local Ukrainian community; Ivan in the basement of the church he built with his father for the Ukrainian community; the garden of the house with the Ukrainian church

From left to right: inside a Ukrainian church built by Ivan and his father for the local Ukrainian community; Ivan in the basement of the church he built with his father for the Ukrainian community; the garden of the house with the Ukrainian church

 

Valentina's Diary

Yalta, Crimea. Valentina Romanova awards World War II veteran Alexandr Fedorovich with a medal.

Yalta, Crimea. Valentina Romanova awards World War II veteran Alexandr Fedorovich with a medal.

Valentina works with a group of Veterans in Yalta.

'We grew up in the Soviet Union, we fought for the Soviet Union. Of course we feel Russian. It is in our blood, in our history.'

Valentina was born in Ukraine, she has lived most of her life in Crimea, she considers herself Russian.

From left to right: a view over the waterfront in Yalta where the stage from Russia Day concert is being taken down; a flag on the rooftop of Valentina Romanova's house;  residential blocks in Yalta

From left to right: a view over the waterfront in Yalta where the stage from Russia Day concert is being taken down; a flag on the rooftop of Valentina Romanova's house;  residential blocks in Yalta

Veteran Mikhail Dimitrievich after presenting colleage Alexnder Fedorovich with a medal

Veteran Mikhail Dimitrievich after presenting colleage Alexnder Fedorovich with a medal

Since rejoining Russia the salaries of the Veterans have increased, some by two or three times, some are now ten times more.'Of course life is better now!'
'Salaries have increased but prices have all increased as well. We will have to wait and see if we will all be better off.''The cruise ships that used to come have not come this year. The media is spreading a lot of fear about Crimea. A lot of propaganda.'Valentina's family are split, her children live in Russia, her siblings live in Ukraine.
From left to right: view over the city of Yalta; in the mountains not far from Yalta; a girl by the waterfront in Yalta

From left to right: view over the city of Yalta; in the mountains not far from Yalta; a girl by the waterfront in Yalta

 

Valentina's niece Sasha who came to visit her from Ukraine sitting on the beach in Yalta.

Valentina's niece Sasha who came to visit her from Ukraine sitting on the beach in Yalta.

Valentina's niece Sasha has come to visit her from Ukraine. 'Everyone was telling me not to come. There is so much being said about Crimea, how expensive it is now, how difficult it would be to cross the border.'

On the train from Ukraine, Sasha was amazed to find it nearly empty. At the border it was not complicated. 'They were checking the men thoroughly because they don't want any activists in but women and children were waved across easily.'

From left to right: Valentina and Sasha on the public beach in Yalta; Valentina and her niece Sasha walking have a promenade in the mountains not far from Yalta; Valentina and her niece Sasha visit their local church on Sunday

From left to right: Valentina and Sasha on the public beach in Yalta; Valentina and her niece Sasha walking have a promenade in the mountains not far from Yalta; Valentina and her niece Sasha visit their local church on Sunday

Crimea. Yalta. Valentina's niece Sasha

Crimea. Yalta. Valentina's niece Sasha

 

'I don't believe in all this divisiveness, we all used to be the same, we should all be Russian now' says Valentina 'when you look at Crimea and you look at Ukraine now, we are just happy not to be at war, things are peaceful here'.

Sasha's family is also divided over the Russia-Ukraine conflict. She and her brother fought hard about it.

'But I told him, lets just be brother and sister, put our beliefs aside. I grew up to believe in family first and I want to cary on that way.'

Sasha says that the tipping point for her was the burning of the pro-Russians in Odessa. She hopes to apply for refugee status in Crimea and eventually get a Russian passport too. 'My brother calls me a separatist'.

Together Valentina and Sasha went to Simferopol for the Russia Day celebrations

'It was wonderful, a huge celebration, we were so happy.'

 

From left to right: Valentina and Sasha open the window before having breakfast; Valentina prinking at home; Valentina and her niece Sasha in a restaurant in Yalta

From left to right: Valentina and Sasha open the window before having breakfast; Valentina prinking at home; Valentina and her niece Sasha in a restaurant in Yalta

 

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