It has already been addressed by the media: the war is present on TikTok, in the typical style with music and fast cuts, with text and large guests, young people accompany their everyday wartime lives here, and let other people participate. With sarcasm and humor they survive. Some of them have now documented their escape and only show the war in retrospect. Between all the colorful videos there is one that doesn’t beautify or conceal, that has no more energy for form and design.
Even though until recently, that was exactly her job. Juli Karzanova is 30 years old and an artist. She was already active on social media before the war, selling art prints on Facebook and Instagram. Today she no longer posts art on Instagram and Facebook, but rather naked reality or, in her own words: “the truth about what is happening here.” Before the war of aggression against Ukraine, just 600 people followed her on Instagram; today there are more than 20,000.
The trigger for her reporting was a private one; a friend who lives in London. She wrote to her: "July, you have to visit London because Ukraine is so shit now." That statement triggered her: "so much". Since then she has been reporting on what she experiences, everyday life in the middle of the war. “I am the only person who can report here in English from Chernihiv.” This is how it became her mission:
My ability to speak English has helped me get attention and get attention from many countries.
That too is difficult for her. She never wanted to be famous, there were far too many people and there were some pretty aggressive reactions to her posts. However, the majority of reactions are positive: "I never thought I would have so many soul mates around the world."
I spot her several times. Her face without make-up, her hair sometimes hidden under a cap and sometimes sticking out in all directions, her eyes pointed directly at the camera, her words: loud and clear. The first video I can remember of Juli Karzanova is one where she demonstrates washing her hair without (running) water.
In the past few weeks there has been running water for a few hours; she also reports about it on her social media channels; it’s one of the few videos where you can see her laughing.
But the next day the water was gone again, she tells us later in an interview. The conversation should have taken place via zoom. "Tomorrow I’ll have my iPad plugged in between 9 and 10:30 a.m. We can make a video call there," she wrote the night before.
But then there is no electricity the next morning either at the place where she was otherwise able to charge her devices fairly regularly. Several of her previous videos show her in between tangled cables on a humming generator. "It loads extremely slowly," she comments. It is difficult to keep in touch with the outside world under the current circumstances or to communicate with each other at all.
“There are so many people here who don’t have internet, no one knows how they are doing. Many have no food, no drinking water,” says the 30-year-old, who went from being an artist to a volunteer in her own country during the state of emergency.
"Sometimes we find a second to smile between the sounds of bombs and explosions," she says. The worst thing is not the attacks themselves, the noise of the explosions, but the fact that people have gotten used to it: "And we think it’s fine." She can’t find words for how hurt they all are. She describes people whose homes have been bombed and who have nowhere to go: "The hope in their eyes, it is lost."
She considers herself quite strong and prepared, since her life had been quite a struggle before, she had lived under difficult conditions for many years: "But of course you can’t be prepared for dying soon."
She has a big request to us in conversation: "Don’t forget us. Please don’t forget us." They would die for absolutely no reason, just because of one crazy man."He’s not going to stop, I know that," she says.
How can you currently help beyond giving attention? She says she can’t answer the question right now: "I don’t trust anyone." Ultimately, everything is currently on the shoulders of volunteers. If there was a possibility, she would communicate it via social media.
If you want to follow Karzanova’s information, you can find her on Instagram and Facebook as "female on acid" and @femaleonacid. Her friend Natalia Gołąbek provides her own reach on TikTok, her channel can be found at @tolka8485
Freie Fotografin seit 2009, freie Journalistin seit 2011, Mitbegründerin von Witness Europe und Report vor Ort.
Juli Karzanova is a very, very strong woman. She is a hero to me. I’ve been watching her almost from the beginning of Putler’s bloody fucking aggression against Ukraine. When she didn’t speak up and didn’t publish anything on Instagram for a few days because there was no internet or electricity .. I thought I would go crazy for fear of her. I admire and respect her a lot. I support her with all my heart and mind. Jula, you are a wonderful woman. I hug you tight.
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