From May 7 to June 8, the National Art Museum of Ukraine will host an exhibition of works by Eric Bouvet, a photographer who filmed the Euromaidan, including the bloody events in Instytutska Street. Bouvet worked as photographer during conflicts in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon. When the Ukrainian revolution began, he decided it had to be documented. His photo of Maria Matviiv, a nurse who heroically tried to save the lives of wounded in Kyiv, circled the world.
He will arrive in Ukraine in early May not only to hold the opening of the exhibition, but also to meet the heroes of his photos. “I was unable to communicate with them then. I would now like to meet them or their families if, God forbid, someone did not survive,” the photographer said.
“I was unable to get a press grant to come to Kyiv at the beginning of the revolution, so my trip came only in early February,” the photographer told us. “I have been working in the media industry for 33 years, but the Euromaidan is still something extraordinary among all events that I have been able to film. I filmed many conflicts all over the world and can compare, so I say that Kyiv was a very dangerous place for journalists to work in. At the same time, I saw that people were happy to see us in your capital, as every protester helped us, giving information, food, tea, sharing their kindness...”
Your picture of Maria Matviiv circled the world. It is significant that you did not film from the Ukraina hotel as many journalists did, but stayed at the epicenter. Were you not afraid that you could lose your life in someone else’s war?
“I feel that visceral fear always, at every war. However, it is my job. I had to be where I was then. Therefore, I came there. Of course, before I came to the protest site, I had no idea what would happen in Instytutska Street. As a human, I was in a wrong place at a wrong time. As a journalist, I did my job professionally. More than that, there were moments when I understood that I had no right to remain only a photographer, but should help. In particular, I helped carry the wounded to a safer place in Instytutska Street thrice.
“It is hard to find appropriate words to describe the heroic people who I saw at the Euromaidan. These were the people who gave their lives for freedom. These were heroes.”