Photobook by Valery Melnikov
The book “Dark Days” is a documentary project of photographer Valery Melnikov about the tragic consequences of armed conflict for civilians in the South-East of Ukraine — Donbass.
I have been documenting the war in Donbass since it started, and during these five years made over ten trips to the war zone, where I witnessed the full extent of the humanitarian disaster. Over this time, I have produced a thorough body of work about this armed conflict, entitled Black Days of Ukraine. The project consists of three big parts that reveal different sides of this war, but each being a facet of the same tragedy.
“Black Days of Ukraine”, the first part of the project, is the most violent and bloodiest story about the very beginning of this war that I was covering in 2014—2016.
“Underground”, the second part of the project that dates to the years of 2015—2017, is the story about little known and often-invisible side of the war, the narrative about local civilians who were trying to save their lives during bombardments by hiding in the basements and shelters of the houses they used to live.
“The Gray Zone”, the third part of the project I have been working on in 2016—2019. “The Gray Zone” is the conditional name of territories without a certain status, without official authorities, without hope for a ceasefire. There are neither functioning hospitals nor schools, nor any jobs at all. People’s lives are in constant danger caused by the non-stop conflicting battle.
The stories, lives, broken destinies, and tragedies are deeply moving, and cannot leave indifferent even the most callous person. Their situation is truly heartbreaking. The memories and impressions of these people, eyewitness testimonies, and all the documents related to the story I have decided to put together in one project, the book “‘Dark Days”.
Photographer: Valery Melnikov
Design: Konstantin Eremenko
Photoeditor: Andrei Polikanov
Text: Valery Melnikov
Text editor/translation into English: Olga Bubich
Editor/proofreader: Tatiana Timakova
English proofreader: Galina Shkumat
Colour correction: Vladimir Semenkov
Print management: Agata Chachko
© Valery Melnikov, photographs, 2020
© Konstantin Eremenko, design, 2020