During the winter of 2022, following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Olivier Roller welcomed young Ukrainian refugees in his home in Paris. From these encounters, made in this tragic context, the photographer has created striking portraits.
For more than twenty years, the Musée nationaux du XXe siècle des Alpes-Maritimes have placed contemporary creation at the heart of their artistic and cultural project, regularly inviting artists to invest their collections. From May 7, 2022, the Marc Chagall national Museum presents in its auditorium, the project currently being carried out by photographer Olivier Roller on Ukrainian refugees.
Taking the form of short videos, Olivier Roller's images are frontal and uncluttered: the bodies and faces, framed up close, open themselves up to the photographer's lens, which slowly focuses on the gaze, fixed or distant, of these young women and men. Their voices, which share their stories, make their shattered existences palpable: broken voices which, beyond words, carry cruel memories, doubts and sometimes feelings of guilt; firm voices too, which tell of their energy, their courage, their commitment to help their compatriots.
This face-to-face, unfiltered encounter opens our eyes to the singular human destinies of those who endure the trials of war. Their presence suddenly gives substance to this remote abstraction that is war perceived from a distance. The testimonies, sometimes mingled with the artist's voice, tell of the uprooting from the native country, the distressing journey, the precarious daily life, punctuated
by uncertainty and the search for means of survival, but also of the thoughts monopolized by nostalgia and concern for loved ones. Far from any miserabilism, Olivier Roller's pictures underline the dignity and the power of these Ukrainian citizens that violence and war have transformed, overnight, into refugees.
Faced with the torments of yesterday's and today's history, the artists also confront us with questions: that of our responsibilities, that of the choice to welcome - or not - the physical and moral distress caused by the war. Olivier Roller's project, with all its humanity, fits naturally in the Marc Chagall national Museum. Throughout his life, Marc Chagall who experienced persecution, war and exile, himself, recounted in images the violence of the 20th century. The painted cycle of the Biblical Message, which includes the story of The Exodus, attests to this and is at the origin of the museum, conceived by the artist as a place of peace and spirituality. Projected alongside
the stained glass windows of Marc Chagall, who wanted to create a house in which "young and old will come to seek an ideal of brotherhood and love as my colors and my lines have dreamed", these portraits also tell the hope of the end of the conflict.
For their trust, our warmful thanks go to Liza, Polina, Nina, Anna, Yaroslav, Anatolii, Liz, Russana, Olesia and Sia whose testimonies we share here.
Olivier Roller continues this project. Follow him on Instagram @OlivierRoller and @Ukranian_refugees_portraits
Screening in the auditorium, every 30 minutes
Duration of the film: 12min39
Visuel : Trois portraits (Anatolii, Rusana, Polina), photographies © Olivier Roller, 2022.
Exhibition open every day except Tuesdays, 25 December and 1 January.
From 2 May to 31 October: from 10 am to 6 pm
From November to the end of April: from 10 am to 5 pm
Ticket sales stop 30 minutes before the museum closes.
The entrance ticket includes access to the permanent collection and a multilingual audio guide.
Exhibition rates :
Full price: €10
Reduced rate: €8
Groups (10 people or more): €8.50