A Ukrainian photographer captures a decade in the life of one park bench.
In a working class suburb of Kyiv, friends gather…
And drinkers drink.
While the faces change, the park bench (barring the occasional paint-job) remains the same.
This photo series, shot from the fourth-floor window of Yevhen Kotenko’s parents’ kitchen, captures life around a wooden bench in the Dniprovskyy suburb of the Ukrainian capital. (The exact location of the bench is here.)
Photographer Kotenko (pictured) began capturing life on the bench in 2007 or 2008. The 36-year-old told RFE/RL: “I didn’t give myself any time limits or goals, I just went to the kitchen and looked out the window. Usually there was something to see.”
Kotenko says he has fond childhood memories of the neighborhood that he grew up in, “but there were a lot of bad things, too, that are better not to think about.”
“The worst thing was seeing people I went to school with drinking on this bench, then crawling home like reptiles.”
“I was scared that if I went outside, I’d become one of them.”
Kotenko says he went about his project unnoticed by the characters he captured.
The reaction to the photos, which are on display at a Kyiv art pub until January 26, has been mixed.
“Some people laugh, others complain that I just focus on alcoholics,” Kotenko told RFE/RL.
The photographer moved out of the neighborhood in 2017…
But has good reason not to miss his old haunts, “I only moved 1 kilometer down the road.”
And he’ll be able to continue the project if he feels like it. His parents still live in the apartment with the view onto the park bench that evokes Shakespeare’s famous phrase…
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”