This is the last photo from our previous life. For some reason, just like that, on 23 February 2022, I left work in the middle of the day to buy a birthday present for my son. His birthday was coming up. My husband was really surprised and told me he’d rather “do it together on Saturday”. By the following Saturday there was already a war. It started on a Thursday morning.
However, I bought the present then, probably out of maternal intuition, I have no other explanation, and this Lego train travelled with us to Romania and even … back. We also travelled a lot during this period. God, I remember every minute of 23 February.
Anastasiia and her son were war refugees in Romania for almost a year. She is the teacher who founded a Ukrainian school in Bucharest. They didn’t leave Ukraine as soon as the war started. They had no intention of leaving the country and wanted to wait in the village, where they thought they would be safe, at least for a while. That’s where they spent her son’s birthday on 28 February, that’s where he got the Lego train. They stayed until a bomb fell on the field near the house where they were taking shelter. And they knew that they didn’t want to raise their toddler with war sounds. They left on 1 March 2022. The story of Anastasiia’s hurried packing can be read in the testimonies of the Museum of Abandonment.
Last Day of Peace, First Night of War is an interactive digital installation, part of the Museum of Abandonment, a digital wall of images showing the last days of peace collected from mobile phones.