Traveling exhibition brings everyday realities of war in Ukraine to Prague metro commuters

As of this week, commuters in some of Prague’s busiest metro stations are seeing photographs of war-stricken Ukrainians sheltering in their own underground. The images were captured by Ukrainian photo journalists and were first displayed in the Berlin metro last year under the title “Next Station Ukraine”.

Klára Jiřičná | Photo: Tom McEnchroe,  Radio Prague International

One of the key movers in the effort was Klára Jiřičná from the NGO ACT Alliance. I caught up with her in the Muzeum metro station, one of the locations where the photographs are being displayed, to find out more about it.

“They had this exhibition in the Berlin metro last November. I saw it through a colleague at ACT Alliance who is based in Germany and I was intrigued and said that we have to have this in Prague. So I got in touch, they agreed to it and here we are.”

Did you have any role in selecting the pictures or did you just bring the same pictures that were displayed in Berlin?

“There are some pictures that were also taken this year, in 2023, so we have it a little more up to date.”

Photo: Tom McEnchroe,  Radio Prague International

How long is this exhibition going to go on for?

“It’s going to go on for two weeks. We installed the photographs yesterday and they will be displayed until May 15.”

Is there something that you would like to achieve with this exhibition? I am guessing that it will also be displayed elsewhere.

“Yes, we are hoping to bring it all around Europe.

“We need to bring focus on the situation in Ukraine. This has to be seen by as many people as possible because we feel that interest in what is happening in Ukraine is slightly declining so we need to keep reminding people of what is happening because it doesn’t feel like the hostilities are going to finish.

“It’s going back to Germany I next month, to Hamburg. So Berlin, Prague, Hamburg and we are hoping other European cities too.”

Photo: Tom McEnchroe,  Radio Prague International

What do you want to evoke in people with this?

“We want them to pause and reflect. To remind themselves of a different reality in the same metro, yet in a different country.

“I believe this has a much bigger impact rather than if you keep looking at dead bodies, corpses and destroyed buildings. These are people just like you and me living their everyday lives that are slightly different than yours.

“I also wanted to say that I saw Czech people who went to the rally on the 30th anniversary of the foundation of the Czech Republic who were openly speaking about not believing that there is a war going on in Ukraine, thinking that it’s all staged and just actors.

“I was shocked by that. I was wondering how you reach people who don’t follow the news and show them the reality. I believe in using the public space is the way. So this is also why we are doing this exhibition, to reach people who don’t follow the news and show them the reality.”

The photographs are on display until May 15 and can be found at the Muzeum, Můstek and Anděl metro stations.

They were taken by Ukrainian photographers Maxim Dondyuk, Pavel Dorogoy, Julia Kochetova, Serhii Korovayny and Slava Ratynski, with the Berlin exhibition being organised by n-ost –an international NGO reporting on Eastern Europe.

More information about the exhibition can be found on the website of ACT Alliance

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