Video, photographs, text

Whenever I’ve taken part in poorly attended protests, passers-by and accidental spectators have always looked on with undisguised surprise. At some point it struck me that the demonstration’s subject and goals were meaningless – whether it was about education, labor laws or brutal violations of human rights.

We invited people enjoying a day off in the centre of Kiev to take part in a brief improvised protest, which was recorded on stills and video cameras.

The protests were held in advance of legal proceedings to determine the fate of two illegally imprisoned social activist-artists, Dmitry Solopov and Alexander Volodarsky.

Participants were invited to speak out in defence of the two activists, or against anti-refugee discrimination, or against the violation of prisoners’ rights, or against the criminalization of political activism and imprisonment for minor offences. 

They were offered several banners to choose from; they were also allowed to turn their backs to the camera or to hide their faces. For the majority of participants, this was the first protest of their lives. Lots of people refused to take part, while a few of those who agreed only decided to make a stand on condition that their faces could remain hidden behind the banners. In this case perhaps the only reliable thing was the banner they held in their hands - like a last bastion, preserving them from the dangers of political life.