Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

MOLODYCZ POLAND (03/21/2016) - A grave in a Ukrainian cemetery in Molodycz in Jaroslaw county on March 21, 2016. In 1947, the Ukrainian population of Molodycz was deported by the Polish authorities during Operation Vistula. In 1947, between April and July, 150, 000 Ukrainians were deported by the Polish army from their ancestral land and dispersed throughout the newly obtained German lands of East Prussia, Pomerania and Silesia.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Marta Iwanek

DNIPROPETROVSK, UKRAINE (05/09/2014) - A young woman waits for the bus in the eastern, industrial town of Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine on May 9, 2014. I often noticed the mix between the west (where I now come from) and the east (laden history and tradition). I often wondered, where I would be as a young woman, if my parents never left to Canada.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Marta Iwanek

MALASTOW, POLAND (03/15/2016) - Antonina Bajus, 87, sits in her home in the village of Malastow, Poland on March 15, 2016. She was deported during Operation Vistula in 1947 at the age of 17 and returned in the 1950s with her husband's family. This was during a brief period when Ukrainian families who filed applications and were approved by the security authorities, were allowed to return.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Marta Iwanek

MISSISSAUGA, CANADA (02/02/2016) - Dancers from the Ukrainian School of the Arts perform during the Youth Festival of Ukrainian Dance at the Livings Arts Centre in Mississauga, Canada on February 2, 2016. There are about 1.2 million ethnic Ukrainians living in Canada.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Marta Iwanek

CHERNIVTSI OBLAST, UKRAINE (01/14/2014) - A costume wedding veil on a participant in Malanka or New Year celebrations in the Chernivtsi Oblast of Ukraine on January 14, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Marta Iwanek

DZIEWIECIERZ, POLAND (03/19/2016) - A total of four parishioners remain in the Ukrainian church in the village of Dziewiecierz, Poland. Before the deportations by the Polish authorities in the 1940s, the village was populated by over 2,000 Ukrainians.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Marta Iwanek

MISSISSAUGA, CANADA (01/10/2016) - Ukrainian-Canadian folk ensemble Kosa Kolektiv prepare to carol at a friend's home in Mississauga, Canada on January 10, 2016. Their aim as a group is to bring peasant folklore into an urban context. During the Christmas holidays, Ukrainian carollers visit friends' homes to sing traditional Ukrainian songs and wish homeowners good health for the upcoming year.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Marta Iwanek

PRZEMYSL, Poland (03/26/2016) - My friend Anita Tuz sets the table for Roman Catholic Easter breakfast in Przemysl, Poland on March 26, 2016. Her grandfather is Polish, while her grandmother is Ukrainian. Tuz was born in Poland and immigrated to Canada when she was a young child. She met her husband when she returned to visit her hometown in Poland.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Marta Iwanek

KYIV, UKRAINE (01/26/2014) - A Maidan protestor stands in the newly occupied Ukrainian House in Kyiv, Ukraine on January 26, 2014. During the winter months of 2013 and 2014 hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians took to the square in support of a country free of corruption and to oust then President Viktor Yanukovych.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Marta Iwanek

KYIV, UKRAINE (12/09/2013) - Protestors stand off with Ministry of Interior troops in Kyiv, Ukraine on December 9, 2013. During the winter months of 2013 and 2014 hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians took to the square in support of a country free of corruption and to oust then President Viktor Yanukovych.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Marta Iwanek

MALASTOW, POLAND (03/15/2016) - Antonina Bajus, 87, sits in her home in the village of Malastow, Poland on March 15, 2016. She was deported during Operation Vistula in 1947 at the age of 17 and returned in the 50s with her husband's family. This was during a brief period when families who filed applications and were approved by the security authorities were allowed to return.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Marta Iwanek

UKRAINE (01/15/2014) - Road to Lviv, Ukraine. January 15, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Marta Iwanek

OAKVILLE, CANADA (02/25/2016) - My great-aunt and her children bury husband, father and grandfather Bohdan Nazarovych in Oakville, Ontario on February 25, 2016. Both Anna and her husband were deported from their ancestral Ukrainian villages as children and met in northern Poland. They immigrated to Canada in the late 80s and played an active role in the diaspora community. After the funeral, my relatives sang a Ukrainian song about cranes that migrate south for winter and some never return, instead dying in a foreign land.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Marta Iwanek

OAKVILLE, CANADA (02/25/2016) - Rev. Volodymyr Makarenko stands in the snow at my great-uncle Bohdan Nazarovych's funeral in Oakville, Ontario on February 25, 2016.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Marta Iwanek

MISSISSAUGA, CANADA (05/10/2015) - A photo of my grandmother when she was 8 years old in the Kholm region, photographed on my parent's kitchen table in Mississauga, Canada on May 10, 2015. This is the only photo our family has of my grandmother in the region that was once traditional Ukrainian territory before falling under Polish rule. Her family along with thousands of others were deported and scattered throughout Poland in 1947 as part of Operation Vistula.In her memoirs she wrote about the day they were deported, "My mother stood in front of our house, with her head in her hands, sobbing uncontrollably. Then one more time, she ran into the house and cried goodbye to the only home she knew. She kissed the icon, which she left to protect the house, and then the walls, the door frames, the threshold. Mother sobbed and so did we. My father stood in the middle of the yard, frozen, then he sat on the carriage, crossed himself and we went."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Marta Iwanek

PREZEMYSL, Poland (03/26/2016) - My friend Anita Tuz's grandfather seen through the kitchen window watching his chickens. Tuz's grandfather is Polish, while her grandmother is Ukrainian. Tuz was born in Poland and immigrated to Canada when she was a young child. She returns to visit her grandparents often.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Marta Iwanek

TERNOPIL, UKRAINE (01/22/2014) - A television news broadcast interrupted by static shows the events of the Maidan in my cousin's kitchen in Ternopil, Ukraine on January 22, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Marta Iwanek

KYIV, UKRAINE (12/31/2013)- A fog descends on the Maidan on the eve of the New Year in Kyiv, Ukraine on December 31, 2013. During the winter months of 2013 and 2014 hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians took to the square in support of a country free of corruption and to oust then President Viktor Yanukovych.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Marta Iwanek

KYIV, UKRAINE (12/05/2013) - A Maidan protestor looks out his car window parked just outside the barricades of Independence Square in Kyiv, Ukraine on December 5, 2013. During the winter months of 2013 and 2014 hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians took to the square in support of a country free of corruption and to oust then President Viktor Yanukovych.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Marta Iwanek

PRZEMYSL, POLAND (03/27/2016) - A foggy night on the way to my grandfather's former apartment in Przemysl, Poland on March 27, 2016. My grandfather was born in the village of Brusno and deported to northern Poland in 1947. He moved to the border town of Przemysl in 1999 and lived there until his death in 2001.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Marta Iwanek

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reFramed: In conversation with Marta Iwanek

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reFramed: In conversation with Marta Iwanek

“reFramed” is a feature showcasing fine art photography and vision-forward photojournalism. It is curated by Los Angeles Times staff photographer Barbara Davidson. Twitter: @photospice

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Marta Iwanek-4

Photograph by Cole Breiland

Marta Iwanek, 25, is a photographer who was born among the tight-knit Ukrainian diaspora community in Toronto, Canada. Her work looks at identity among displaced communities with a focus on family and how we care for one another. Born to parents who were immigrants to Canada, community has played a strong role in her life.

She is a graduate of the Journalism program at Ryerson University and the Photojournalism Program at Loyalist College. Her work has won three Canadian National Magazine Awards, including Best New Magazine Photographer and Best Photo Essay/ Photojournalism. Her work has also been recognized by NPPA, Magenta Flash Forward, the Canadian Journalism Foundation Tom Hanson Photojournalism Award, AI-AP, Shaun Best Memorial Scholarship and she was a participant in the Eddie Adams Workshop XIII.

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Q: How did you get started in photography and at what point did it become a vocation for you?

A: I went to Journalism School at Ryerson University in Toronto and in my first year I signed up as a volunteer at one of the campus papers. They sent me to cover a protest and to take photos as well and from that point on I was hooked. I loved the way photos could tell stories and the fact that you couldn’t sit in an office to tell the story. You needed to be out there interacting with the people whose stories you are telling and experiencing the world alongside them. I then studied photojournalism at Loyalist College and completed internships at Canadian papers the Oakville Beaver, the Waterloo Region Record and contracts at the Toronto Star and Canadian Press. In November, I started a path as a freelancer. I graduated Loyalist in 2013, so have been working in the field for the past three years and am still very new at the craft.

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Q: In your experience, what for you are the positives of working on a staff newspaper versus freelance and visa versa?

A: I’m very fortunate to have had the experience of working at various newspapers right out of school. To get the chance to photograph everyday and work alongside talented photographers and reporters, taught me so much. This is a job where you learn the most through doing it and when you have opportunities and a good community around you, it helps you grow even faster. Everyday was a different assignment, but I also had a chance to work on some great long-term pieces. I went freelance at the end of last year and it’s definitely been a different experience, but positive nonetheless. Freelancing gives you a lot more freedom to decide which projects and stories you’d like to pursue. I’ve always had a passion for long-term documentary projects, so this has let me spend time concentrating on that. At the end of the day, however, everything depends on you. Setting goals and self-discipline are so important. It’s on you to negotiate the access to stories, to pursue them, and then to get them published. Newspapers naturally give you resources and a home for your stories, but that’s not to say you can’t find that on your own. I strongly believe in community and supporting each other in this industry. Naturally it’s very competitive, but I think we can only grow stronger as storytellers if we are open to sharing and learning from each other.

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OAKVILLE, CANADA (02/25/2016) - Rev. Volodymyr Makarenko stands in the snow at my great-uncle Bohdan Nazarovych's funeral in Oakville, Ontario on February 25, 2016.

Rev. Volodymyr Makarenko stands in the snow at Iwanek’s great-uncle Bohdan Nazarovych’s funeral in Oakville, Ontario on February 25, 2016.

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Q: How did your personal project about Ukraine come about?

A: It’s been a story that’s been on my mind for a few years now. It started when my grandmother died in 2012 and her being my last grandparent to die, I realized that those roots and connections to the culture were fading as well. I had been travelling to Ukraine for periods of time as well and ended up in Ukraine when the 2013-2014 Maidan protests began. I ended up staying for three months and it really opened my eyes to a Ukraine I hadn’t experienced before. It felt like an awakening had happened in the country. However¬¬¬, at the same time there was so much nuance to it as Ukraine is so diverse. It really started me on journey to want to understand this place better and my own connection to it. My own family’s history adds a different aspect to it as well, as they are Ukrainians from Poland and I have been traveling to that country also.

My own grandparents were born in the lands near the south-eastern border of Ukraine and Poland in what was then ancestral Ukrainian land. The borders were constantly changing hands at that time and the casualties mounted on both sides. After WWII, those lands became part of Poland again and the Polish authorities deported hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians from those areas, sending a part to Soviet Ukraine and dispersing another part throughout Poland under military Operation Vistula in 1947. The latter is what happened to my grandparents, but even though they were taken from their land, their identity remained so strong. I feel that because Ukrainians didn’t have their own country for a long time and many scattered across the globe in search of a more stable home, the notion of identity was preserved in their minds. It’s why I feel you find that identity so strong in diaspora communities, one, two, three generations deep.

Marta Iwanek kid

I grew up in the tight-knit Ukrainian diaspora in Canada and I heard all these stories about the homeland growing up. It’s interesting to attempt to look straight back my community and learn things I may have missed if I wasn’t paying attention or asking questions that I wouldn’t have if I was just living it. I think that’s the great thing about photography that you can use it to explore something so deeply.

I’ve usually worked as a photojournalist and continue to; telling other people’s stories in hopes of bringing awareness to issues and giving people a voice. I also think changing the focus on the personal can be a powerful window into stories that in turn are universal. The perspective of a first generation Canadian, who feels a tug between two identities and a longing for finding a place that is home, is a story that is so common in this country. As people continue to migrate all over the world, it is continually going to be a story others can relate to.

It’s a story about family, about roots and about the fluidity of culture. It’s a process I’m using to explore, connect and understand this place that my family comes from and under different circumstances could have still been there.

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Q: Can you tell me more about the process?

A: This project is still very much a work in progress and evolving as I grow into it. It’s new and fluid as I’m digging deeper into what I want it to say and how to say that. I think that’s really exciting. Even the way I’m shooting it is still evolving. On my most recent trip to Poland, I tried a Hasselblad for the first time and the process is so different. All the time before this, I’d only worked with a digital camera in newspapers and the Hasselblad just forces you to slow down and look and be patient. The feeling is different in those images, so it’s something I want to continue pursuing.

I’m also recording people’s stories as well as their songs, or songs I hear in churches, choirs, events etc., so that helps to shape it as well. I think there is so much power in sound and it creates a whole new layer of understanding of a place and people. Reading the lyrics of a lot of these folk songs is also like a window into the past and gives a sensibility of an era. I’m also reading as many history books and literature from these areas I visit, to really get a sense of the place.

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Q: What do you hope to achieve with this essay?

A: I hope to create a body of work that speaks about the diaspora existence and connects that to everyday life in Ukraine. On a personal level it’s about photographing memories and moments that mean the most. It’s about figuring out a place I still feel I know so little about. I hope when people see the work, they can relate to it and see a bit of themselves and their story in it as well.

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Q: Why do you think long term projects are important for photographers?

A: I think long-term projects are very important for photographers. I think it takes time to really understand something and I love documentary work because it’s like an onion to me. Through time, patience, commitment, genuine interest, trust etc. you start to peel back the layers and understand the stories you work on, so much more deeply. It’s such a beautiful process, getting from one layer to the next. I feel like we often come into stories with already set notions. Whether we like it or not, we all come from a certain way of understanding the world. So the longer time you are able to spend with stories, the more your notions are challenged and I think that’s a good thing.

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MISSISSAUGA, CANADA (05/10/2015) - A photo of my grandmother when she was 8 years old in the Kholm region, photographed on my parent's kitchen table in Mississauga, Canada on May 10, 2015. This is the only photo our family has of my grandmother in the region that was once traditional Ukrainian territory before falling under Polish rule. Her family along with thousands of others were deported and scattered throughout Poland in 1947 as part of Operation Vistula.In her memoirs she wrote about the day they were deported, "My mother stood in front of our house, with her head in her hands, sobbing uncontrollably. Then one more time, she ran into the house and cried goodbye to the only home she knew. She kissed the icon, which she left to protect the house, and then the walls, the door frames, the threshold. Mother sobbed and so did we. My father stood in the middle of the yard, frozen, then he sat on the carriage, crossed himself and we went."

A photo of Iwanek’s grandmother when she was 8 years old in the Kholm region.This is the only photo her family has of her grandmother in the region that was once traditional Ukrainian territory before falling under Polish rule.

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Q: Who are some of your heroes and why?

A: My Baba (grandmother)! She left everything she knew and moved to Canada on her own and then sponsored 12 people, so that they could come here too. She was so giving, and really the center of our family life and also very artistic. She started the Ukrainian Cultural Centre in her region in Poland, encouraging others into the arts. She wrote poetry and sang songs herself. The other day, I found a tape recorder with a box of tapes and found a cassette she had recorded in 1991 with songs from her home village. I thought I’d be more upset, but I just melted in one spot, being able to hear her voice again.

Photographically, I remember being completely struck with the work of Eugene Richards, Nan Goldin and Diane Arbus. There’s an incredible, unflinching honesty in their work that I really respect and look up to.

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Q: What ‘s one of your favorite photo adventures so far.

A: There’s so many, I don’t know if I can choose one! There’s going to Ukraine for a week and staying three months during the Maidan; to touring with a folk band in a smelly, bumpy Ukrainian bus; to photographing for eight months in a Toronto community housing high-rise and getting to know the residents; to spending two-months at SickKids Hospital following the incredible stories of the children there; to the most recent road trip with my dad in Poland visiting my grandparents’ former villages and finding people who had returned after the deportations as well as learning so much about our own past.

 

Links for Marta Iwanek: Website  | Twitter | Instagram

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barbara.davidson@latimes.com

twitter@photospice

 

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