A photographer explores the mystique behind her memories of Crimea

When I was a child, Crimea always seemed like a sacred, apolitical place. It had distinctive mythology and traces of ancient civilizations. It was there that I saw the sea for the first time. Yearly trips were somewhat like visiting a favorite grandmother during holidays, a time free from worries.

The already rich mythological layer of the peninsula was constantly fed by local legends. Rocks, bays, rivers and groves became participants in epic stories. Natural locations were endowed with wonderful properties and received names. In our time, these myths formed the basis of excursion routes popular in Crimea. Pilgrimages to places of power — one of the leading destinations of the tourism business. Dozens of places in Crimea are considered sacred in various spiritual teachings.

The Soviet era gave the peninsula new mythological constructions — totalitarian cults and enthusiastic utopias of space exploration. World War II became the main collective trauma and the main object of the mythologization of the new time. During this period, the leading status returns to the image of the warrior, praising the special army romance. After the war, there was a new wave of immigrants from the Soviet countries, caused by the need to support agricultural land after the mass deportation of more than 180,000 Crimean Tatars and 40,000 representatives of other nations.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the peninsula became part of Ukraine but in early 2014 was annexed into Russian territory. Exposed from under its romantic history, Crimea would then become known as the center of political conflicts. Perhaps these conflicts will one day become another layer of mythology. For now, the country of my childhood has transformed into an isolated island on the map of Russia.

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