This Ukrainian photographer captures the hidden eroticism

and fantasy sub-culture of Ukrainian railroads

Her project seamlessly crosses the boundary between reality and fantasy

Photo: Julie Poly

Interspersing fictional characters with real passengers.

Among the protagonists are businesswomen from the capital, village gigolos, soldiers, students, and ladies in leopard garments. The project was inspired by my own observations as well as by my real experiences.

Poly considers herself as a "mockumentarian".

Photo: Julie Poly

She describes the process in encapsulating this photo series: "In general, my art practice is about merging my previous experience in documentary and staged photography. I find myself constantly inspired by trivial things, everyday events, stories from the lives of friends, and my own experience."

The series is an accentuation and celebration of the beauty she sees.

Photo: Julie Poly

It acts as a reminder of the happiness and beauty of Ukraine and its people

Photo: Julie Poly

That is hard to come by in today's headlines.

Poly's work doesn't only focus on extroverted

and raucous, joyous happenings

Photo: Julie Poly

But also on the more quiet and tender moments onboard that occur amongst the mayhem.

A cake by the window, or a tightly buttoned shirt

Photo: Julie Poly

Even these mundane snapshots show that Poly's joyous, extravagant world on the railroad has some ordinary moments. The artist's task is to seek distraction from unpleasant realities, such as the one Ukraine is currently facing.

The train is a perfect place for us to try and be different people

with different desires and different tastes.

Photo: Julie Poly

After all, odds are one will never encounter these strangers twice in a lifetime.

Poly suggests an intimacy in the enclosed space of a train: "... [it] is intimately erotic primarily because nowhere in the world you will find trains where half-naked people travel together side by side."

In the Ukrainian trains, there is a tradition for passengers to dress

in more comfortable clothes

Photo: Julie Poly

once they get in, change their shoes to slippers or lie barefoot, have dinner and a drink — all that in tight compartments."

Poly decided early on that she wanted the series to become a photo book.

Photo: Julie Poly

The book consists of 13 stories which are different characters going to a different destination. Each of these stories are accompanied by text written by Lizaveta Gottfrick and Olga Balenciaga, based on Poly's experience as a train conductor.

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