Month: April 2012 (Page 1 of 2)

Exhibition: A Room of My Own

Spring arrived in scorching-hot style this weekend and I’ve been doing everything possible to get out of the house and enjoy the soul-lifting sunshine.

I was quite happy therefore to receive the following press release and invitation to a new gallery/exhibition opening in Kiev next week. Not only do I have a new reason to leave the house, but the photographer is renowned for her work and the subject (the everyday lives of LGBT families in Ukraine) is refreshingly contentious. Much as I love Ukraine, minority groups are often stigmatised and marginalised here, so anything that shines a light of them and enhances public understanding must surely be a good thing.

“A Room of My Own”

photographs by Yevgenia Belorusets
dedicated to the everyday lives of LGBT families in Ukraine

Date: 3rd of May 2012 at 18.00

Location: At the Visual Culture Research Center in Kyiv (26 Kostyantynivska St., “Zhovten” Cinema, Metro: Kontraktova Ploscha)
Event: Within the framework of the project of the Visual Culture Research Center entitled: “Image in the Dark: Contemporary Critical Photography”, which is part of the parallel programme of the 1st Kyiv International Biennale of Contemporary Art ARSENALE 2012, we invite you to attend the opening of the exhibition by Ukrainian photographer and artist Yevgenia Belorusets – “A Room of My Own”. The exhibition organisers are also proud to announce a performance by Ukrainian artist Alevtina Kakhidze to take place on the opening night, entitled: “On the subject of gender discrepancies among inhabitants of the planet Geten”


The Detail 

This exhibition is dedicated to the everyday lives of Ukrainian LGBT and Queer families, who have to overcome harassment and threats of violence on a daily basis because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Queer is a political position. It offers an alternative to common binary oppositions within society, such as male vs. female, homosexual vs. heterosexual, or norms vs. aberrations. It also rejects marginalisation, social exclusion and discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation.

“A Room of My Own” consists of a series of documentary photographic portraits and testimonies by the stars of this project, who the artist met during trips to various cities across Ukraine.
Through fragmented sketches of domestic life, with all its joys and pains, Yevgenia Belorusets and the heroes and heroines of her project tell their personal stories, affording us a brief glimpse of what lies behind the thick curtain which ordinarily separates their private lives from their public identities.

Silence surrounding the subject of homosexuality both enforces discipline upon and discriminates against the everyday reality of queer people and queer families. Society’s judgement splits people into two camps according to which two sexes people choose to form a family. There are those who can speak about their personal lives, and those who are forbidden to speak it aloud. As a result, one group of people are accorded greater value and relevance simply because of a mythological idea of what constitutes “normality” – a standardisation of human life.

The photographer’s artistic and political intention is to make the invisible visible. To do this, she uses neutral photo-portraits and dialogue with interested parties. Her goal – to reveal that which is hidden – involves overcoming alienation in order to uncover a closed-off world where the participants in this project have found themselves against their will.

The heroes and heroines of “A Room of My Own” agreed to talk about their everyday lives without embellishment, despite the risk they face of being publicly judged.

Texts accompanying pictures, which the photographer wrote down based on interviews with them, are an integral part of the exhibition.

An important element of Yevgenia Belorusets’ artistic statement is her intention to deconstruct negative imagery associated with transgender and homosexual people, which is built on stereotypes and on a desire not to know more about the lives of queer people.

Unfortunately, xenophobia, homophobia and transphobia are widespread in Ukraine. These attitudes impose severe limitations on the personal freedoms of homosexual and transsexual people.
This type of social exclusion can and should be stopped. All of us are equally responsible for ensuring that this happens.

The exhibition will include visual material about a demonstration called “Shut it down and archive it!” (Zakryvay i archivuy!), which took place in protest against censorship of the work of the Visual Culture Research Center at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, and the Center’s eventual closure by the Executive Board of the University. It will also include work made especially for this demonstration by architect Oleksandr Burlaka.

Curator: Nataliya Tchermalykh
Designer: Aleksandr Burlaka
The exhibition will run from the 3rd to the 20th of May 2012 at the following address:
Visual Culture Research Center in Kyiv (26 Kostyantynivska St., “Zhovten” Cinema, Metro: Kontraktova Ploscha)
Working hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 12:00-21:00

The exhibition is supported by The Ukrainian Women’s Fund (UWF).
Partners: Visual Culture Research Center, “Insight” NGO, Prostory Journal for Literature and Arts, Heinrich Böll Foundation.
“A Room of My Own” in the media:





Turbasa Teterev: a weekend in the Soviet Union

In Soviet times each factory or collective had its own countryside resort called a Turbasa. Employees and staff could use the Turbasa for holidays and weekends out of the city.

The town of Teterev, eighty km from Kiev is renowned for its beautiful nature and wildlife and several Turbasas were located there.  Sadly, after the fall of the Soviet Union the lion’s share of Turbasas disappeared or were forced to close, however a few remained and you can reach them via the Elektritska (electric train) from Svyatoshyn.

Very little has changed over the past twenty years and for those who want a flavour of the Soviet Union, a visit to the Turbasa  Teterev offers an unforgetable experience. And for those who just want a great, relaxing time we recommend a stay at the resort as well.

Situated in the forest and surrounded by lakes and a river, the wildlife is astonishing and you can rent cabin with BBQ for 25 euro a day.

The resort is managed by Sergey Illich together with his helper: the two make the experience even better.  Tell Illych that you were sent by Jerom from the Netherlands. He is a big fan of Holland.

A prefabricated concrete fence surrounds the Turbasa.

Sergey Illich (left) with his helper.

At Turbasa and a BBQ

Abandoned wooden shelters 

A lake is located near the Turbasa. Local people spend the day at the lake in a tent, that protects them against the burning sun.

The local kids catch fish in the river Teterev which  is located five metres from the Turbasa


Alexander Terlyuk and want to welcome you to Ukraine. They also want to clear up a few points and say sorry. Don’t be intimidated, I think he means it.

Insane in Ukraine

Don’t try this at home …or in Kiev. Or anywhere!

Enjoy the video but please leave it to the professionals.

As beautiful as a pysanka

‘The world is as fragile as an egg and as beautiful as a pysanka’

A few weeks before Easter, I walked out of the metro near my house and noticed a group of Babushkas crowded around a woman who was demonstrating a new gadget. While they maintained their cool-but-unforgiving ‘tough-guy’ stances (as all babushkas seem to do in public), I would have to say they seemed genuinely interested in what they were looking at, even excited.

Intrigued, I went over to see what the woman was selling. It appeared to be some kind of painted egg or maybe some kind of machine for painting eggs.

I smiled and walked off wondering why a painted egg would cause such excitement.

Zhanna Kobylinska explains why below…

The painted eggs are called pysankas and they are an integral symbol of Easter. They are Ukrainian Easter Eggs.

Pysanka and their lively colours

The word ‘pysanka’ comes from the verb pysaty (to write) because an egg is written with beeswax rather than painted on. The egg is widely used as a symbol of the start of new life, just as new life emerges from an egg when the chick hatches out. Traditionally, an egg is decorated with multicolor Ukrainian folk designs: white is a symbol of purity, birth, light, rejoicing, virginity; yellow says about youth, love, the harvest and perpetuation of the family; orange symbolizes endurance, strength, and ambition; green is the color of fertility, health, and hopefulness; spring, freshness and wealth; red is a symbol of charity, spiritual awakening, the divine love and passion of Christ, hope, passion, blood, fire, and the ministry of the church. Blue says about good health, truth and fidelity. Brown symbolizes Mother Earth and its gifts and generosity.

The Pysanka Festival, Lviv

The Pysanka Festival takes place in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv and it decorates the city with these traditional pysankas. The festival also teaches everybody, both Ukrainians and foreign tourists, to master their egg decorating skills and every participant has a unique opportunity to attend master classes to make his or her own pysanka.

At the festival one can see pysankas made from different interesting and unexpected materials such as chocolate, balloons, trees, flowers etc. Thus, during the festival period Lviv is turned into a real Open Air Pysanka Museum. One can plunge into a real whirl of unforgettable emotions, good mood, supply of energy, spiritual refreshment and feeling of starting new life.

The Pysanka Festival in Lviv is usually held in April and if you attend you can share the atmosphere of good, hope, faith, new life and spring!

The Pysanka Museum

The Pysanka Festival in Lviv is one way to discover this Ukrainian symbol of new life, goodness and hope and enrich someone’s spiritual inner world. However, if one wants to learn more about pysanka, the techniques used to paint them and their history, I highly recommended a visit to the only worldwide Pysanka Museum located in Kolomyia (Ivano-Frankivsk region, West Ukraine). Its collection presents unique works of miniature painting whose ornaments keep traditional pagan symbols. The museum’s collection has more than 12 thousand pysankas and the building housing the Pysanka Museum is built in the shape of the largest ornamental egg in the world (14m in height and 10m in diameter) with exposition and exhibition halls inside. I recommend you visit their exposition of decorative eggs from Belarus, Poland, Czech, Slovakia, Romania, France, Denmark, China, India, Argentina, Canada, the USA, Israel, Sri-Lanka, Pakistan and Egypt (some exhibits were made in the 19th-20th). You will find a variety of subject compositions and unique colour combinations that have formed a system of codes to be read each year as they are presented.

Zhanna Kobylinska

Capturing Kiev. Stunning shots of the Ukrainian capital

I’m happy to share some stunning pictures of Kiev, kindly submitted by Lev Shevchenko.

Lev is a photographer from Kiev, inspired by his home city and urban themes.

He shoots with a  Sony R1 and if you are visiting Ukraine with your camera, he suggests the following places: Crimea, the Carpathian mountains, the seaside, castles of Western Ukraine, pastoral villages of Central Ukraine, and the Ukrainian cities and towns.

View more at and



















EURO 2012 promos

As Ukraine gets ready to host the European football championships in June the country, well parts of it,  have had quite a serious cosmetic makeover. Streets have been repaired, roads built, airports opened and stadiums erected.

Kyiv and Lviv got new logos, and the metro system even got new ‘English’ language signs!

In addition to this, Ukraine and her host cities feature in a whole medley of ‘inspiring’ promotional videos.

To save you hours of trouble trawling youtube, I’ve listed the best of them here.

Ladies and Gentlemen, sit back, click play and let Ukraine roll…


First up, the general Ukraine and Kyiv Promos 

Vlad video… a preview of the footballing action


Switch on Ukraine. Its a real ‘turn on’


You can’t come to Ukraine without experiencing Taras Shevchenko in some way, he’s everywhere. Here’s his contribution to Euro 2012.


4 wonderful minutes of Kyiv


Kyiv Live, a great time-lapse video of the city


I Didn’t Ask To Be Ukrainian I Just Got Lucky! – A ‘Discover Ukraine’ promo


This is the full official promo: “High time to see Ukraine”


Next we have the host city Lviv

Very short clip about the Lemberg Stadium Lviv


Welcome to Ukraine. Lviv. Euro 2012 [HQ]


UEFA‘s Lviv EURO 2012 Promo video


This one is worth watching just for the music!


...and Kharkiv 

The Stadium


The city


What they do when there’s no football


and finally, the formidable Donetsk


The expensive Donetsk promo for UEFA Euro-2012


The expensive stadium


Oh, and…

Yes, there’s even a happy EURO song!

Running in Kyiv won’t kill you

After six days of eat-all-you-like holiday laziness last week, I woke up in Kyiv this morning in a panic. In just 19 days time I am supposed to be running the 15km road race at the Kyiv Marathon, and I’m about as healthy as chicken kebab with cheese and double mayonnaise.

I need to get running, but where?

Kyiv is a wonderfully green city but that doesn’t always translate into ‘nice for running’. There are many reasons for this: the roads and pavements (that’s a side walk if you’re American)  are wide but they’re often in bad condition, the drivers drive with little or no consideration for pedestrians (and even drive on the pavements), and the stray dogs take great delight in chasing and terrorising anyone they see exercising.

In short, jogging in Kyiv isn’t very popular and it isn’t always jolly. However, it definitely is possible. In fact, it is an incredibly good way to see the city and to explore the hidden back streets and curious courtyards which you would otherwise never pass.

The city is also quite hilly, so depending on your mood and/or level of fitness, you can also run up and back down some steep slopes.

Anyway, as I lay on my bed to consider my dilemma (where to run?) I logged into and as if by magic, someone had posted a link to an article in the local press: The top 10 routes for jogging in Kyiv’

I don’t know who wrote the original, but has the article in Russian along with some useful maps to help you on your way.

I decided to use it for this article and below is an English version which I ‘ran’ through google-translate and then tweaked to make it readable. At the end I’ve also included a couple of my own routes.

If you have any other advice, or if you know any other nice places to run please let us know by leaving a comment at the end.

Top 10 places to run in Kiev, in reverse order

Number 10. The Park at Babi Yar 

Its quite a large park, but instead of tarmac/asphalt it has slab paving which can be a nuisance. I’ve never run there, but if you don’t mind running on the grass, and you’re not put off by its history, then give it a try.


Number 9. The “Spartak”stadium 


Stadium running seems to be the most popular form of running in Kyiv (perhaps because of the aforementioned problems), and if you want to exercise like a Spartan warrior, try the Spartak stadium. The stadium is equipped with a rubberized running track, which according to the original article ‘is very pleasing to the races’.   You wont get killed by an Oligarch in a Range Rover here, but you won’t see much of the city either.  The nearest metro is probably Petrivka.

Number Eight. Solomensky Park


Like many other routes, this route is also quite far from a metro stop, however the park has may hills and winding trails which will give your legs a god workout.

Apparently there are also several stadiums nearby, but you’ll have to find them yourself.

Number 7. Palm Lake Waterfront


This sounds like it should be in Miami, but apparently its in Obolon and its advisable to choose a route on the other side of Moscow Avenue because it will be quieter. Its also advisable to run early in the morning or late in the evening otherwise you’ll have to run along with the traffic and trucks.

A good alternative to the Palm Lake neighbourhood is the Obolonska embankment. It runs along the side of the Dniper (the big river that splits Kyiv in two) and its a great place for running, walking and cycling.

Number 6. The Rusanovsky channel


This is the first route on the wrong bank, sorry I mean left bank. Its a picturesque place for a morning jog and it is not far from the subway. If you run near the water, you can relax afterwards and feed the ducks who live near the bridge. You can run both on the road parallel to the channel and along the boulevard that separates the artificial island.

Number Five. The Path of Health


With its appropriate name, this route is in a historic part of Kyiv which has long been used for fitness. The route begins in the park of Partisan Glory in the Red Farm. The trail goes through the entire park and ends in the woods.

Be careful of the two railway lines and a road that cross through the route.

Number 4. The National Botanic Garden


This old Kyiv park (founded in 1918), with its massive trees and rough terrain is a great place to run and it is open from September to April from 8:00 am until dark, and in the summer – from 8:30 to 21:00.  The closest metro (Druhzby Narodiv) is about 10 minutes away, but annoyingly you’ll need to take some money with you as the admission fee is 5 or 10 UAH.

If you get tired of running, checkout the greenhouse gardens and the butterfly house. Both are wonderful.

Number 3. Park avenue


This one is very good if you’re in the city centre.  The route goes along the ‘green zone’ on the slope that overlooks the Dnipro River and wrong left bank of Kyiv. It is no accident that the Kiev Marathon incorporates this route as part of the marathon route.

Number 2. Taras Shevchenko park. 


Of course, Taras Shevchenko had to appear somewhere in this guide.

Located in the heart of the city TS park is one of the best kept parks in the city. Its convenient location in the centre has obvious advantages, but it has its disadvantages: an evening run around the park can be very difficult because of the large number of people.  It’s also not very big, so you’ll need to run quite a lot of laps if you want a good workout.

There’s a fountain in the park which you can drink from – a great little bonus.

Number 1. Mariinsky Park


With its central location, well kept paths and absence of cars – Mariinsky Park is a favourite with walkers and joggers alike. If you get tired of running around at the Mariinsky, then you can go down to the stadium “Dynamo” or run the other way – in the Park of Glory which goes all the way to the Motherland statue.

All-in-all, the combined parks and monuments that line the river on the right bank offer some of the best and safest places to run in the city.

Bearder’s Bonus Routes…

Here are a few of my own favourites.

Bonus A. Trikhaniv Island


I’m amazed that this didn’t make the top 10. Perhaps someone is trying to keep this secret for their own running pleasure? Anyway, you reach the island by crossing the footbridge near Poshtova Ploscha Metro station and once you get there, you have endless possibilities. You can stay on the roads, run through small forest tracks or even run along the beach. Despite the fact that you’re right in the city centre, you’d never know it because all you can see is forest. Also, if you take some money and you run in the evening, you can relax and enjoy a post-run beer at one of the bars near the footbridge.

Bonus B. Druhzby Narodiv hill. 

I used to run this route when I lived in the area and its for those who don’t mind running on the pavements/sidewalks.
The route runs along some main roads, but the pavement is wide, clear and easy to run along and half of the route takes you through quiet residential areas. Its not a very long run, but almost exactly half of it is down hill and the other half uphill so its a great workout.
Have any other suggestions? Please let us know.Also, if you’re interested in running the Kyiv Marathon, don’t forget to register here. It takes place on the 6th May.

Gallery. A day out in Kherson

Gallery. A day out in Kherson

Milking it

Have you ever wondered where milk comes from in Ukraine?

Well, yes cows, but surprisingly almost eighty per cent of Ukrainian milk is produced by private farmers that own an average of just 1.5 cows.

They sell their milk to local factories who visit each day to collect the ‘village’ milk. The majority of private producers also sell their milk at market. Ira from the village of Borodyanka – under the smoke of Kiev – is typical example of a country farmer. I met her while she is walking her cow back home.

After she brings the cow home, the milking process starts. Two cats are watching. (a pig is closeby too)

After milking the cow she filters the milk through a sieve and gives me a glass to try. Later that day a milk truck will collect the remaining 18 liters.

However, not all the milk comes from small farmer like Ira. Professional dairy farms exist, but they are quite scarce. One such example is the Dolinski farm which is situated in the south of Ukraine, in the Kherson region. The farm has 600 milk cows.


And of course, many calves.

Two locals are feeding the calves with mother milk.

The French dairy producer Danone collects the milk at the farm and pays 35 euro cents a liter. Ira receives 20 cents per liter because her milk is supposed to be of lower quality. Contrary to what many people in Ukraine tend to believe (Ukrainians have a special love for ‘naturprodukt), milk in the supermarkets contains far less bacteria. According to experts, fresh market milk is responsible for hunderds of contaminations a year.

The truck is about to clean the stable.

A worker is collecting the hay for the cows.

The Dolinski farm has Soviet roots. It was founded in 1974 and today it employs 40 people. This rises during harvest time to 140.

Soviet style monument leading to the farm

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