Tamara Karakozova
Ukrainian Way: Life in the Time of War in the Ukrainian communities of New York

Ukrainian Village is not far away from Chinatown and Little Italy in New York City. It does not have lots of street signs or stores that would “scream” Ukraine. Like every community in NYC, it went through many changes. Today, only an Orthodox Cathedral stands out, decorated in yellow and blue – the colors of the Ukrainian flag. Outside of it, there are charity-collection boxes that allow visitors to donate money to help people of Ukraine. As the war progresses, more and more people lose their homes, and are forced to run to other towns within Ukraine. Only women, children and men who cannot be drafted, are able to leave Ukraine and go abroad… Communities of Ukrainians in NYC do as much as they can to help all those who ran from war…Apartment buildings in Ukrainian Village today do not have much but an occasional flag to mark dedication of their occupants to the cause. They want to withstand the invasion. NYC, like no other place, has people of mixed national identities, Russian-Ukrainian and Ukrainian-Russian Americans who fight their own wars refusing to take sides. On August 24, 2022, to commemorate both: Ukrainian Independence Day and the six-month anniversary since the start of Russia’s invasion in February, the corner of Brighton Beach Avenue and Coney Island Avenue was co-named “Ukrainian Way.”  As the war progresses, it becomes less and less sensational, and donations are smaller and smaller. One of the clothing stores that had all mannequins dressed in yellow and blue to support Ukraine, has now only one…standing tall by the very entrance…City makes its changes as time passes. The purpose of this project is to give some kind of permanence to these transformations.

Tamara Karakozova is from Tbilisi, Georgia, but was born in Lugansk, Ukraine. Currently, Lugansk is a conflict territory that is a part of the so-called Lugansk People’s Republic, annexed by Russia in 2022. Tamara’s sister and her family fled Lugansk to Kharkiv in 2014 and then had to leave Kharkiv because of war in March, 2022. They are still in Ukraine trying to survive on adaily basis… Tamara is an alumna of University of Mississippi, as well as an instructor of Russian. She believes in differentiation of politics and culture, and teaches her students to be attentive to cultural clues of Russian language. Photography is Tamara’s way to explore and document life in Russian-Ukrainian communities in the United States. Current work includes images taken in Ukrainian Village, as well as in Brighton Beach areas of New York City.