Viacheslav Poliakov

Lviv–God's Will

Lviv–God’s Will comes from the name of a bus route that connects the city of Lviv with Bozha Volya, a small village lost deep in the forests along Ukraine’s border with the European Union — the promised land of wealth and eternal joy. The bus departs from the main gate of an old Lviv cemetery and travels west.

In Ukrainian ‘Bozha Volya’ translates literally to mean ‘God’s will’, but also shares origin with the word ‘bozhevillia’, meaning madness.

A naïve, visual subculture involving public space has become widespread throughout Ukraine after the fall of the Soviet Union and subsequent expansion of globalization. Makeshift sculptural scenes appear in the environment through accidental interactions and random interventions by unrelated people — products of indiscriminate behaviour, mistakes, destruction, and natural vegetation running wild.

Ultimately, nobody is responsible for this happenstance. It is all God’s will.

These scenes and structures are shown as found in reality, and have not been interfered with other than to be isolated from their surroundings. Neither are they confined to any geographical boundary; they reflect a state of mind.

Ukraine gained independence and left the USSR in 1991. Alongside the disintegration and collapse of the Soviet empire, municipal service organizations degraded as well. External powers that held strict control over cities and financed their condition disappeared. Originally built as cheaply as possible and at an incredibly fast pace, towns and cities revolved around state-run factories which became useless in the new economy. Infrastructure was deteriorating and there was little to do.

People then waited many years for the promised repair of buildings and public spaces, but at some point realized it would never happen. Apart from that, grey Soviet-built apartment blocks have never satisfied the expectations of their residents with their comfort or beauty.

Making improvements to public spaces is nearly impossible now due to outdated laws, bureaucracy, and mafia infiltration of city administrations. For these reasons, the condition of the city is increasingly being influenced by emotionally unstable locals, by people who initiate projects through money laundering, by villagers not accustomed to waiting for permits or official support and, eventually, by wild vegetation.

With the absence of professional planning and architectural support, residents now do what they can themselves to improve the state of their streets and gardens. All of these influences contribute to a random terrain formed by coincidence, and to the unique aesthetics documented in this project.

"Lviv–God's Will" photobook

Published by Overlapse, 2018.
First edition, Trade Softcover, 17 x 24 cm portrait
128 pages, 99 photographs
ISBN: 9780994791986

35 €