The two sisters sit very relaxed next to each other, their hands on their knees, their heads turned to the right. The old ladies wear colorful headscarves, behind them icons hang on the wall, adorned with embroidered scarves. The blanket they sit on is also embroidered, a product of long Carpathian winter evenings. Ukrainian photographer Ruslan Hrushchak, who has lived in Leipzig since 2000, brought his two aunts together for this photo. They meet once a year and tell each other what has happened in the meantime.

His picture can be seen in the exhibition “Beyond the Road” in the Berlin gallery Buchkunst. Hrushchak, a graduate of the Ostkreuz School, is showing photos from the years 2010 to 2020. They were taken after the photographer had started a family in Germany and was wondering how he could bring his homeland Ukraine closer to his children. They are calm, often private and intimate photos, which also show the spirit of optimism in a changing country.

A scene of ice fishermen in Kyiv would seem like something out of time were it not for the newly constructed skyscrapers looming on the horizon. A man who deals in antiquarian books in Lviv stands in his kitchen with a rustic blue stove and the new stove next to it, a sign of progress. Another man greedily sucks on a cigarette in a Kyiv suburb. It is his first cigarette after returning from the Donbass front. The war began there in 2014, and its presence can be felt latently.

Two women are sleeping in the train, the window offers a view of a picturesque, wide landscape. Children play a peaceful scene on a road leading to Zakarpattia. However, the tenements in Hrushchak’s home village of Drohobych seem strangely familiar. Similar houses are in the news every day now, with empty black window sockets and bombed-out facades. Hrushchak’s unspectacular everyday scenes resemble a time capsule. They preserve a Ukraine that no longer exists and show people who had hopes for a better life.