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PORTFOLIO

17.11.2021

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The village of Chermalyk is located on the banks of the River Kalmius in Eastern Ukraine. Until April 2014, the opposite bank of the river was still Ukraine; but for more than seven years now it has been part of the Donetsk People’s Republic, as proclaimed by pro-Russian separatists. In February 2015, the Ukrainian government and the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics signed the Minsk Agreement calling for a cease-fire. It is an agreement that is only on paper. The entire area along the front is a restricted military zone officially only accessible to locals, journalists, and aid organisations with special permits.

When Fritz travelled to Chermalyk in 2018, the village regularly came under fire from separatists. There was a shortage of food, and numerous houses and streets were destroyed. Anyone with enough money had fled long ago. Those who stayed behind had no other choice. Most of them are Greek, and Chermalyk is their home. Their original story of migration into the region dates from the 6th century. In the more recent past, the 1940s, many of them fled there convinced of, and believing in, Communism. Approximately 90 000 Greeks live in Ukraine, mostly in the area around Mariupol, forty kilometres from Chermalyk.

Today, Chermalyk is a village made up of the aged and those left behind – people who, despite all the adversity, try to make themselves some kind of everyday life. An everyday life in the middle of an armed conflict. It is a harsh everyday life, defined by war and a poverty. Fritz remembers the most fascinating thing about the people living there was their solidarity and hope. “No one gave even the slightest impression of giving up. I don’t mean about winning the war, but rather about continuing to live their lives.”... (Katrin Ullmann)

Read the full story in LFI Magazine 8/2021.

All images on this page: © Johanna-Maria Fritz
Equipment: Leica M10 with Summilux-M 35 f/1.4 Asph and Summicron-M 50 f/2

Johanna Maria Fritz

Officially speaking, Johanna-Maria Fritz lives in Berlin. However, in reality she trav-els most of the year. She studied Photography at the Ostkreuzschule in Berlin and since 2019 is a member of the agency bearing the same name. Her work has been published in Spiegel, der Zeit and National Geographic, among others. She has earned a number of recognitions, including the Inge Morath Prize and the VG-Bild grant.

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