Elena Subach
Black Gums

An old wives' tale says: when one buys a guard dog, they should look inside its mouth at the gums. If the gums are black, this dog is a good choice as it is evil and strong, so thieves will not be a threat.

During Operation Vistula, the forced relocation of Ukrainians from ethnic lands to the western and northern territories of the Polish People's Republic in 1947, some stories appear that they were treated as aliens in the new lands. People were cautious but sometimes said that they were different and had black gums in their mouths.

There are many stereotypes and prejudices around people who differ by their nationality, beliefs, sexual orientation, body shape, etc. from the vast majority. These stereotypes are much harder to break than physical barriers.

The photos were created in Poland during the Gaude Polonia scholarship program of the Ministry of Culture of Poland, in the town of Syanok and its area. These are portraits of people from the Ukrainian minority groups, descendants of those displaced in 1947, who managed to return to their native lands in eastern Poland, near the modern border with Ukraine.