Life in Kiev has never been easy. Following the end of its Russian occupation at the end of the century, the city has played the role of proverbial tugging rope between the EU and Putin, its political threads gradually becoming fractured and weak. 2014’s killings in Independence Square became the most violent in modern Ukrainian history, a ploy from Russia to end supposed ‘anti-terrorist’ campaigns against the superpower. But things have been stirring, people have been talking, and from under Soviet rubble, a new generation of youth have emerged with the single mantra to, “break rules and push oneself”.
“(They) don’t have borders, they just want freedom, love, friendship, peace – just a normal life” – Hiroyuki Koshikawa
Subcultures are everywhere; from 1970 punk rock to the on-going underground rave scene, counter culture is a reaction to the climate around it; a single ‘fuck you’ to governments and straight-laced people worldwide. Japanese photographer Koshikawa Hiroyuki’s latest collection of photographs centres around this movement. “It was the summer of 2013 when I started to take photographs of youth culture in Kiev,” he begins, “at that time, I lived in Berlin. I was researching some interesting stuff about Kiev on tumblr when I found a cool skater crew, contacted them and asked to meet up with them and take photos”.
For Hiroyuki, it’s important to see and portray Kiev as a place just like any other: “to see subculture superficially in Kiev instead of inflation, currency depreciation and corruption”. His subjects range from skaters and models to fashion designers and club kids, “I tried to understand and see freedom, love, what they do, how they think about life, their passion, how daily life looks and so on,” he continues, “I don’t want to say ‘this is Kiev’ in this project, but what I have been doing is to showing that young people have a different lifestyle to what mass media or society is trying to impose”. The youth of Kiev, Hiroyuki tells us, “don’t have borders, they just want freedom, love, friendship, peace – just a normal life”.