29.11 - 02.02.2020


Justyna Mielnikiewicz. Ukraine Runs Through It


Address:  IFF Gallery, Racławicka St 99, Fort Mokotów, Building 6

Opening hours: Wednesday to Friday 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM, Saturdays 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Opening: November 29, 2019 (Friday), 7:30 PM

Guided tour with the artist and the curator: November 30, 2019 (Saturday), 12:00

Entrance fee 30.11.2019 – 2.02.2020: PLN 7

Curator: Joanna Kinowska

Justyna Mielnikiewicz has been insightfully documenting everyday life in the countries of the former Soviet Union. Her debut book, Woman With the Monkey (2015) presents a record of 15 years of work in the Caucasus mountains. Since 2014, she has been photographing Ukraine. 

Her first, much earlier concept was to follow the run of the Dnieper river which, aside from its geographical significance, divides the country also symbolically. During Justyna's work on the project Ukraine Runs Through It, two events occurred which changed the fate of the country and thus influenced the character of the photo series. First the Euromaidan (late 2013 / early 2014) and a while later the seizure of Crimea by Russia have thrown Ukraine into a state of war.

Justyna photographs these transformations, observing how the conflict divides not only the country itself, but also the people. Ukraine Runs Through It is a story of the ordinary people from different parts of the country, who unexpectedly had to cope with much more complicated reality. The viewers learns about the fates of various individuals, looks at everyday life in Kiev and in the Donbass region – places known from the TV news – and also, or perhaps more importantly so, in smaller, ordinary towns and villages.

The Ukrainians have to deal not only with an armed conflict within the borders of their own country, but also with chaos and propaganda. Some of the people portrayed by Justyna have decided to join the active fight, to take sides. The photographer is trying to understand their motivations and attitudes, that is why she devoted her time, for several years, to re-visit the country and the people she portrayed.

This exhibition presents more than 40 photographs from the project Ukraine Runs Through It, which was closed and finalized in the form of a photobook at the end of 2019. The book made the shortlist of the most important photobook contest, Aperture – Paris Photo Photobook Prize.


Justyna Mielnikiewicz started her photographic career as reported in the Krakow branch of Gazeta Wyborcza. Since 2001 she has been living in Georgia and works freelance. Member and co-founder of the MAPS, international photographic agency. Before that she was one of the founders of the Sputnik Photos collective.

Her works were published in The New York Times, Newsweek Polska, Paris Match, Monocle, Stern and Le Monde. In 2009 she was awarded the second prize in the World Press Photo competition for her photos documenting the war in South Ossetia, made under commission from The New York Times. In the same year she was awarded the Canon Female Photojournalist Prize for her project on the Caucasus.

In 2014 she published her first book, Woman With a Monkey – Caucasus in Short Stories and Photographs, which was the result of almost a decade of work on documenting the region. The book was included in the publication presenting a hundred books by female photographers, How We See: Photobooks by Women, published by 10×10 Photobooks.

Since 2014 she has been working on her book project on Ukraine titled, Ukraine Runs Through It. In 2019 it was published in book form by and the Polish Institute in Tbilisi. The book was included among the 20 best photobooks of year 2019, nominated for prizes by Aperture Foundation and Paris Photo.


Fort Institute of Photography invites you to the workshop with Justyna Mielnikiewicz. For more information - here.


Main partner: Puro Hotels

IFF Foundation patron: Fort Mokotów, White Stone Development

Partners: Stroer, Artibo

Exhibition patron: The Princes Lubomirski Foundation

PR: Steinke Communications

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