Brezhnev's Daughters

Brezhnev’s Daughters, the title of this project refers to what women call themselves in Dneprodzerzhinsk, Ukraine, the birthplace of Leonid Brezhnev and the industrial heartland of Ukraine.  The women say that they are Brezhnev’s children because they have inherited the future of the failing land and their father has abandoned them.

Dneprodzerzhinsk, Ukraine is about 8 hours from Kiev along the Dnepro River the heart of Ukraine’s mining and manufacturing production.  This area is like many cities in the east, an industrial wasteland with factory stacks ablaze filling the skyline.  The landscape takes on the quality of a bad Hollywood movie about the apocalypse. The industry in these towns is a double edge sword; one that contaminates and sickens yet employs most of its people.  This is where Ukraine’s working poor live.

In these parts of Ukraine it is very prestigious to work in the sex industry.  The industry offers economic opportunity to many women other than what the factories can provide. Their sexuality is their strength and they use it as a form of emancipation to support their families.  They are very proud of this.  Many young women work as welders during the day for pay that is not sufficient to feed their families, while at night they pole dance. Brezhnev’s Daughters is a portrait of these and other women in the industrial south who are faced with these complex choices. 

These photographs are made with an 8x10 camera and printed on Gelatin Silver Paper.