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The largest exhibit of Ukrainian photography in the UK is coming to Liverpool

The exhibition Home. Perspectives, which runs from May 4 to May 21, brings together a variety of works from 17 Ukrainian artists who present various methods of image creation as well as various perspectives on Ukraine.

The exhibition is curated by Mariama Attah, Viktoria Bavykina and Max Gorbatskyi, together with six invited curators representing different cultural institutions across Europe and the UK: Kateryna Filyuk (IZOLYATSIA. Platform for cultural initiatives, Kyiv and 89 books, Palermo), Ben Harman (Stills – centre for photography, Edinburgh), Louise Pearson (National Galleries of Scotland), Amelie Schüle (FOAM Amsterdam), Monika Szewczyk (The Arsenal Gallery, Białystok), and Lindsay Taylor (the University of Salford Art Collection, Salford) who shared their perspectives on Ukrainian photography through the projects they selected and commented on.

Viktoria Bavykina and Max Gorbatskyi, curators, said:

“We believe that the visibility of Ukrainian culture is vital for its decolonisation, which, in turn, is a prerequisite for securing our identity and the right to own our history and future.

The exhibition has been created in a dialogue between the Ukrainian, European and British photography sectors and presents diverse approaches to work with the photographic medium and different perspectives on Ukraine’s past and present”.

Sarah Fisher, director of Open Eye Gallery, said:

“Home as about the celebration and survival of Ukrainian culture amidst more urgent survival, and Open Eye Gallery team are proud to stand with Ukraine as they fight for their home.  

Our era of international sharing online sees people uploading 2 billion photographs per day. Photography is now the international language of democracy. Home’s photographers reveal Ukrainians’ current experience, and as importantly, fundamental human values that underpin our idea of ‘home’: family and friends in a safe space, the beautiful landscapes of our home country, human creativity and the culture within which we recognise ourselves – our identity”.

Public realm. Home diptychs

Six Ukrainian photographers tell their stories about home through images. Six UK poets respond with a short poem. These diptychs will be situated in public spaces and on Merseyrail sites. 

The photographers: Maryna Frolova, Alexander Chekmenev, Igor Chekachkov, Polina Polikarpova, Yaroslav Solop, Mykhaylo Palinchak.

The poets: Deryn Rees-Jones, Jackie Kay, James Conor Patterson, John Hegley, Hanan Issa, Roger McGough, curated by the National Poetry Library.

Home Trails App 

An app, designed by the University of Liverpool team, will lead the EuroFestival guests and Liverpool locals to independent spaces to see Home-themed Ukrainian photography collections in 5 trails across the city region. The themes of the trails are Land, Making, Liberty, Resistance, Settings. 

The 25 places on the trails include cafes, shops, museums and galleries. Each place will have an artwork by a contemporary Ukrainian photographer and a postcard for sale – profit will go to the Hospitallers medical group, an organisation focusing on sourcing and delivering medical supplies for paramedics who save human lives in Ukraine. Everyone is invited to collect the postcards and upload your own poem, lyric or a letter in response.

Exhibitions in Liverpool City Region

Each trail ends in an exhibition: 

  • Williamson Art Gallery & Museum (April 26 – May 27). This exhibition offers various interpretations of the concept of ‘Resistance’ by bringing together the work of 3 different Ukrainian photographers: Mykhaylo Palinchak, Andriy Rachynskiy and Elena Subach.
  • Norton Priory (27 April – 31 May). In Anatoliy Babiychuk’s project, the village of Horaivka stands as an exemplary story of a small village that has kept a traditional way of living. Black on Prussian Blue by Andrii Dostliev and Lia Dostlieva explores the notion of a perpetrator’s gaze based on the study of the photographs from the family album of a Wehrmacht soldier.
  • Kirkby Gallery (01 May – 15 June). Nazar Furyk represents the generation of artists whose practices are characterised by an exploratory approach to photographic imagery and photographic subjects. His project “Simple Things” blurs the boundaries of photographic genres searching for new pictorial forms or questioning the role of the medium today.  
  • Unity Theatre (01 – 12 May). ‘To Know Us Better’ project by Anton Shebetko celebrates queer Ukrainians who are living or temporarily staying in Europe. Their experience and hopes for a better future are documented in a series of portraits and heartfelt interviews. 
  • The Atkinson (04 May – 15 June). The projects ‘My World is not Real Enough for an Apocalypse’ by Sasha Kurmaz and ‘Dreamland Donbas’ by  Viktor Marushchenko were both shot in the Donetsk region. The heroes and heroines of Marushchenko’s photographs are the illegal coal miners trying to make ends meet. Kurmaz’s story is about the ‘social life of the young generation in the Donetsk region, its form and relationship in the environment.’ 

Film

Ukrainian curators and photographers and UK poets are talking about home and what it means to them in Home From Home film produced by Hurricane Films and Arthouse Traffic Films. The film will be available to watch during Home. Perspectives exhibition at Open Eye Gallery and online.

Book

The book Home includes featured photographs and commissioned poems, the exhibition views, and essays on the topic of home. It will be available to buy at Open Eye Gallery during Home. Perspectives exhibition. The book is published by Team, Leeds.

At Home: special edition of Open Eye Gallery’s in-house magazine TILT

The magazine, produced in partnership with the Centre for New and International Writing, University of Liverpool, shows photographs by contemporary Ukrainian photographers and poems and essays created in response to them.

Speaking about producing the zine Deryn Rees-Jones, Co-Director of the Centre for New and International Writing, said:

“The work featured here is by current and former students of Creative Writing at the University of Liverpool, and one poet whose work is published by Pavilion Poetry. All the writers, who are at different stages of their lives and careers, have had a chance to reflect, in poetry or prose, on what home means, using the photographs as a bridge to their own memory and imagination.

The very best writing comes from a place of radical empathy: an ability to identify but also to address one’s own assumptions and beliefs. Working on the zine has given us all an important opportunity to reflect on the war in Ukraine and its devastating impact on the daily lives Ukrainians”.

Contributing writers: Deryn Rees-Jones, Oleksandra Pron, Bernadette McBride, Pauline Rowe, Sarah Hymas, Saul Leslie, David Tierney, Anita Pati, Max Gorbatskyi, Viktoria Bavykina.

At Home magazine will be available to buy at Open Eye Gallery.

Home Schools Activity Pack

Home: What Does It Mean to You? is a creative writing resource pack for Year 5 primary school pupils, developed by poet and writer, Pauline Rowe, and the team at Open Eye Gallery. The pack uses five photographs from contemporary Ukrainian photographers to encourage pupils to respond creatively to visual images through stories, poems, lyrics and letters.

The pack includes seven PDF files – a colourful presentation for the classroom, guidance notes about the pack, and five black-and-white printable activity worksheets for pupils. Download the pack HERE.

The pack is designed to encourage pupils to think about alternative ways of defining ‘home’ : as a feeling, a place, an identity, or through experiences of being with friends and family. It is inspired by contemporary Ukrainian photography, in keeping with the same theme.

Events

Events during EuroFestival will include creative writing workshops, artists talks by Ukrainian photographers, publications and poetry readings. Confirmed events:

The Liverpool Camarade, European Poetry Festival (11 May, Open Eye Gallery, RSVP)

Poetry in a Time of Crisis. Ilya Kaminsky lecture (15 May, The Tung Auditorium, RSVP)

Image: Igor Chekachkov, from the Daily Lives of the Displaced series, Lviv, Ukraine, 2022

READ MORE: Metropolitan Cathedral has launched two new visitor experiences

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