Prom Pictures of Ukrainian Teens on the Verge of an Uncertain Adulthood | The New Yorker

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Prom Pictures of Ukrainian Teens on the Verge of an Uncertain Adulthood | The New Yorker

The Israeli photographer Michal Chelbin has made images of Ukrainian teen-agers at two different locations during two distinct periods: first, in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, in 2008, and then in and around Kyiv, in 2019. Each time, her subjects were on the precipice of adulthood, attending their high-school graduation, an event that includes a prom. Our view is that of an outsider, although Chelbin’s father was born in western Ukraine, and she grew up fascinated by the black-and-white portraits that he had brought with him when he left as a child. In some of Chelbin’s photographs, the teens re-create those old styles: a subject stands, for instance, with a hand resting on the shoulder of a peer sitting nearby. Unlike teens in the U.S., the young men’s dress varies quite a bit, from tuxedos or conventional suits to brightly colored jackets or uniforms. The young women wear ball gowns or more casual short skirts.