A guide to the New East

Odessa dreaming: scenes from a hot and restless summer on the Ukrainian coast

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After handing in her dissertation and completing her studies at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv earlier this year, Lyubov Slyusareva felt a sudden relief. Before any worries about the future set in, she headed to Odessa, on the Black Sea coast, where a friend had sublet a room for the summer. “I planned to meditate and really pay attention to my sleep and diet,” says Slyusareva, who has been outspoken about her problems with anxiety and panic disorder, and the role photography has played in improving her mental health. Not everything went to plan: after three days she was forced to move out of the flat and had to change her accomodation more than once during the trip, sometimes sleeping on friends’ sofas. She visited the small resort town Fontanka, to party in a secret location “which taxis couldn’t even find”. She travelled to a sanatorium on the outskirts of Odessa famous for its soothing mud treatments and made unlikely friends with a shepherd. The heat was intense; for this reason all her photos are taken in the early hours of the morning or in the last moments of daylight. Yet the endless sunsets are also representative of a new dawn for the photographer. “In the end, the restlessness of vacation actually brought about a sense of calm. I’ve always struggled to accept life as it is. I used to believe that in those moments when you lose control, something is bound to go wrong. In actual fact it’s pure bliss,” she reflects.

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