A stark, candid new series by Mark Abegg captures Ukrainian models in a sensitive charity initiative to support women and children affected by war
Today, great fashion photography is global and collaborative, bringing together a unique cast of talent and reflecting a rich and beautiful tapestry of culture. Mark Abegg is one such photographer, who met Ukranian model Pasha Harulia while shooting his first editorial, before developing a friendship with her and her husband Dima Novichenko. Since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, the husband-and-wife duo are currently living as refugees in Paris.
Harulia features in Abegg’s new series among 30 other Ukrainian models, now on display at Oddityparis, with all proceeds from the sale of prints benefitting Марш Жінок (Women’s March) – a Ukrainian non-profit benefiting women and children affected by the war. The stark, black-and-white imagery – with casting by Maxime Valentini – is pared back in comparison to Abegg’s usual cinematic, stylised work. The new series of portraits, titled Models for Ukraine, is a candid window into the faces of the real people the war on Ukraine has affected.
Through speaking with each model about the displacement caused by the war, Abegg unravels a vulnerable story, one of worry and hope, behind the eyes of each of his subjects. “These models, living through such a life-altering event, told us how uncertainty and fear takes a toll on them – how their life has been divided into ‘before’ and ‘after’,” says Abegg of the project.
According to the UN, a report in January stated that 18,817 civilian casualties had been recorded in Ukraine due to the war, while tens of millions of people are in “potential danger of death”. Millions of children are currently in need of humanitarian assistance as a consequence of a war not of their making, sparking displacement on a scale and speed not seen in Europe since World War II. For Abegg, galvanising the creative community is essential in light of the ever-changing scope of the conflict. “I wanted to try and raise awareness and funds for the cause, and allow people to understand that this war affects us all in some shape or form. If we are wondering about the rising food and gas prices, it’s because of the direct effect of the situation in Ukraine – and they won’t get better until peace is found.”
Models for Ukraine by Mark Abegg is on display at Oddityparis from 6-10pm on February 15.