Back in 2020, Anna Pylypyuk and Volodymyr Shypotilnykov documented Kyiv’s fortified region, a complex of defensive structures consisting of field fortifications and engineering obstacles that stretch up to 85 kilometres, that was built from 1929 to 1941 in order to protect the old border of the USSR. Now, more than 80 years later, the future of Kyiv is being tested again.

Right now, the defence of Kyiv against the warfare of the Russian army is taking place in the area of the Kyiv Fortified Region. In 1941, the same territories were part of the battleground for Kyiv’s defence against the German Wehrmacht. Anna Pylypyuk and Volodymyr Shypotilnykov photographed these places in the late summer and autumn of 2020 in order to document the changing landscape of Kyiv, as rapidly growing residential suburbs were merging with the resilient forests and fields of the Fortified Region. Back then, Pylypyuk and Shypotilnykov were interested in how the past remained embedded in the present, in how the legacy of a traumatic history was still visible in the local environment, in the relations between historicity and present materialities of the space, and last but not least in how photography played a vital role in translating these connections and keeping them alive. Now, in 2022, one month into the war, the violent history of the place is coming back in a wretched and unlikely loop. The future of Kyiv that already witnessed this in the past is determined on the battlefield in the fight against Russian terror.

Anna Pylypyuk and Volodymyr Shypotilnykov are artists from Sevastopol in Crimea, Ukraine (occupied by Russia since 2014). Based in Kyiv, they develop a collaborative practice that is attached to photography as a basis. You can stay up to date with their work on Instagram as well, Anna and Volodymyr.