Anna Senik is on a mission to capture Ukraine’s cultural heritage before it’s lost forever. In her series of portraits, she showcases the traditional clothing of Ukraine’s various regions and ethnic groups. These vibrant garments tell the story of Ukraine’s visual heritage, from intricate headwear to colorful jewelry to patterned dresses. By immortalizing these garments in photographs, Senik gives voice to Ukraine’s cultural heritage, which is under siege due to political turmoil and war.
All of Senik’s costumes are genuine, coming from private collections and museums. She has collaborated with ethnographers, costumers, collectors, and assistants to document ensembles that feature popular designs, floral headbands, and vibrant beaded jewelry. It protects Ukraine’s visual culture while also paying tribute to tradition.
For over ten years, Senik has worked as a photographer in Ukraine. Still, like many of her compatriots, she has chosen to adapt and serve in the Armed Territorial Defense to help defend her nation during the Russian invasion. “I had a wonderful year (or rather, even longer ago) last year,” she explains to Freeyork. “I concentrated solely on my art. There was a lot of motivation, labor, and journey for my staff. In 2021, we will produce a total of 33 series! Looking back, I appreciate how important and wonderful this period was.”
She does not know when she will be able to create art again. “It is presently impossible,” Senik adds. She relocated her photo archive to a secure location and committed herself to fight for her country’s independence. “That was the only option available to me. I miss being able to take photographs, though. It was the purpose of my existence, and I am looking forward to victory and peace to reclaim it.”
Senik is taking a break from her portraits to use her photography talents as a platform for conveying what’s going on in Ukraine through the lens of military operations. For news, follow her on Instagram.