In the summer of 2013, months before Euromaidan started, photographer Maxim Dondyuk had traded his camera for video equipment. He was in Crimea, trying his hand at documentary filmmaking, when 2,000 protesters peacefully gathered in Kiev’s main square after the government decided to suspend its process of integration into the European Union. He watched as the protests intensified and, on November 30th, as the authorities started cracking down. The next day, he was at Maidan. “Euromaidan became one of the most visually beautiful revolutions,” Dondyuk wrote after spending three months in the square. The photos he came back with are incredibly cinematic, like scenes from a Hollywood film, and show another side to a widely-documented event. Now he’s making a book, in which aesthetics and emotions take the lead.
Roads & Kingdoms: When did you first visit Maidan?
Maxim Dondyuk: Everything happened in the city I live in. The first mass assembly was on December 1st 2013, and it included people from all walks of life. I took a photo from the subway where you can see how crowded it was. The two blocks around Maidan were absolutely packed. People were coming from the entire country, not only to support European integration, but to protest against the impunity of those who beat up students there a few days earlier. People were coming out to defend civil rights. That was my first day at Maidan and I couldn’t have imagined were it would be leading me. That day, the authorities made a mistake: on Bankova street, right near the office of the President, demonstrators and journalists were beaten up. That same day, demonstrators started occupying City Hall and barricades started going up. Despite that, I was sure that by the morning the police would have cleared the entire place. I didn’t have the slightest idea that I would spend the next three months there.