Gogol Street, 32

[scroll down to see photogallery]

In the historic centre of Kiеv - on 32, Gogol Street – there is a run-down house where people have been forced to live for more than two decades, even though it was declared by the city authorities as “unfit for living”.

The house is too worn out to be rebuilt, and must be torn down. According to the Ukrainian housing code, under these circumstances residents should be evacuated and given flats of equivalent size in other buildings within the city limits. Yet this has not happened.

This is just one of numerous cases of violations of a basic human right to housing and adequate living conditions. Some people managed to leave the house on Gogol Street, but for those who do not have any financial means to find housing elsewhere, they have no choice but to remain. They regularly write letters to city authorities, initiate court trials and carry out demonstrations, but their demands for decent housing remain unanswered.

All communal services (electricity, water, gas, heating) in the house are out of order, ceilings, floors and walls are cracked and rotten and may fall apart at any moment. Several families live in communal flats in conditions of overcrowding. These images and interview extracts may also be used as an illustration of inadequate living conditions of millions of other post-Soviet citizens. 

Living in dilapidated housing means that even most basic chores are often a challenge: a shower is taken quickly with fear that water will be turned off at any moment, and water for laundry must be heated in pails on a stove.

After a woman was injured by pieces of ceiling falling on her when she was sleeping, residents built hand-made “roofs” over their beds and put poles to hold up the ceiling in places where it risks falling.

The main heroine of the photographic project died from dire housing conditions. Other residents are still hoping for change.

--- * ---

This photographical project is dedicated to the everyday life of residents of 32, Gogol Street - a dilapidated house in the historic centre of Kiеv.

I spent more than three years taking photographs in this house and interviewing its residents. My aim was to capture their everyday lives, to see their chores and recreation, and the interiors of their dwellings.

The project is complemented by sociological research conducted by Anastasiya Ryabchuk. Its goal is to draw public attention to the situation for residents of the building at 32, Gogol Street as well as of other, similar houses in Ukraine, and to support residents in their struggle for decent living conditions.