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Cycling Mileage in Kharkiv, East Ukraine

During my trip to Ukraine (the last 4 weeks) I have taken part in the action “Respect bicycle on the road” in Kharkiv.

It happened that a friend of mine is  an avid cyclist and hence the fighter for the rights of cyclists on the road. It should be noted that cycling in Ukraine is radically different from Denmark or The Netherlands, where I have experienced to bike. In Kharkiv, cycling can be equated to extreme sports. First of all there is no infrastructure for cyclists. Cyclists ride along with cars, and using the same traffic lights on the road. This means that the cyclist begins his movement on the general traffic light, and thus delayed the start. How important it could be one understand from the situation when the car turns right, and thus, starting the first, cut off a cyclist of his intentions to move straight. In this situation, the cyclist is forced to give the way to the car physically, since the collision is inevitable. The solution to rank the bicycle in this case is to set up special traffic lights for cyclists, which turn on the green light for 4-5 seconds earlier, and thus give the rider the opportunity to start moving first.

Here I give a picture of bicycle traffic light in Copenhagen. As you can see bicyclists have their own traffic lights that are placed in the same column but smaller. Some of them have also the bicycle sign above.
And with close-up.

But back to the bicycle trip. So we gathered altogether at the sixth largest square in Europe, that is the Freedom Square in Kharkiv, East Ukraine. The square area is 11.9 ha.
We were around 30 persons. Here on the picture you can see the giant statue of Lenin that gives us guidance for a happy trip! 😉
There are Kharkiv National University, Gosprom Building (the monument of constructivism) and The Military Academy behind the Lenin’s statue.


And we are ready to go!

Our route led through different parts of the city. Thus we wanted to attract the attention of as many as possible drivers to us. Our motto was for tolerance and respect on the road! But sometimes it was difficult to bike because of high polluted air, bad road condition, and absence of bicycle infrastructure.

But despite this we have no losses and have reached the forest park, where he made a time out. It was a perfect place to make a group picture. So here we go, the bicycle heroes, as I call them in Kharkiv.
And some close-up.

By the way the building behind one of the participants is not a crematorium, it is a very famous Kharkiv Opera House.
I think that the degree of mismatch function and the aesthetic image of the building is on a par with the opera house in Copenhagen.

We made also a stop at the Zerkalnaya Struya (a graceful arbor with a small waterfall at its base):  the symbol of Kharkiv, so this trip was also quite informative and educational for me. On the picture below you can see the friend of mine Sergei and me standing proudly at the foot of that small fountain.

Next we drove through the city center, and luckily for us it was Saturday, so there was no traffic congestion. But I still counted enough violations by motorists to see the relevance of our bike ride. It must be noted that the drivers were very surprised by the number of cyclists, as we followed each other. I think that seeing the number of cyclists in Copenhagen (official statistic says that up to 36% of citizens bike), the drivers would have thought that the world has gone mad.

The journey ended near the stadium Metalist, which is completely reconstructed for the European Football Championship. What?  You do not know that Ukraine will be hosting the Euro 2012? By the degree of  football propaganda in Ukraine it can be compared only to the arrival of General Secretary of the Politburo in some seedy former Soviet republic. In Ukraine, everybody knows about Euro 2012, even the tea leaves in tea.

Thus ended our 2-hour bike ride, sometimes extreme, sometimes reckless, that proved once again that the sustainable development of cities has always depends on the position of the inhabitants, and if we want to improve living conditions in the city,we should start with these small but important bottom-up initiatives: biking, sorting house waste, use the public transport, cooperate with each other to improve green areas etc.


I am very pleased that I met the bicycle activists in Kharkiv, and I want to thank them for the invitation to take part in the trip. It was fun and energetic! I want to wish you a safe bicycling, always a good summer weather, and that the city administration begin to build a bicycle paths as soon as possible for you!
Here’s my comic greetings from Copenhagen. Fight for your rights on the road! 🙂

Bodies in Urban Space

Last Friday I have seen a live performance Bodies in Urban Space, presented by 20 dancers, parkour practitioners and circus artists. The task for the audience was very simple – follow the crowd and look around to find volatile human sculptures. They could be anywhere and even in most unexpected places: between call-boxes, on the light pole, at a doorway, on the staircases etc. Participants come into position or grouped very fast and freeze motionless up to 10-15 min, that make them look like a bright addition to the urban space.

Bodies in Urban Space is a result of co-operation between participants and famous choreographer Willi Dorner, who was working with different experimental festivals in Europe and USA.  By artworks and performances the artist give new visual angle to everyday urban life.

“Whether it’s people spilling out of doorways, climbing up trees, crouched on rows of steps or sandwiched into concrete crevices, the idea is all about looking at the city afresh – about looking at the urban environment and the city architecture differently, and they use bodies to get a new perspective on architectural surroundings.” – quoted from Time Out.

I post pictures taken by Yuliya Klimenko during the performance. That action was quite impressive and very cool! Enjoy:))

On a voyage

On a Voyage is a performance presented by Frank Bølter during Metropolis Biennale.

The initial idea of the performance was to build a giant paper boat and to sail in the city harbor. This concept routes from the poetic sensation to explore the world without fear and expectations, like children or fairytale heroes do.

With a help from citizens the boat was built out of milk cartons.

By the moment of launching there was impressive crowd around: helpers,  reporters,  gawkers, excited kids and rescuers they all seemed as immediate participants of the action. I think it was the temperature of the water only that stop them from a jump and swim side by side.


But the boat started to break up in some places even before it touched the water surface. It is hard to say was it due to the weather condition (the paper could be wet because of the rain) or to some construction mistake, but those cracks became bigger and the launching failed.

It was a pity to see the boat slowly sinking in full view of everybody. But the artist fearlessly jumped aboard and start to sail with a help of towboat. The crowd watched him after disappointed and misled.

Frank Bølter has gotten different prices for his artworks and performances. Besides the paper boat he builds also other monumental art pieces out of paper, such as Akropolis in Linz, where he engages citizens to take part.

The Hill

August 7, 2011 5 comments

The Hill is a name of documentary film from Zimmerfrei, that was shown during Metropolis Biennale.

The movie is about the urban place Korsgade mountain located at Noerrebro district in Copenhagen. The dream and reality of mountains residents intertwined in the movie, people tell stories of their life, dreams and fantasies. As a different puzzle pieces, those stories become into romantic and personal description of the place, as well as different views make the panoramic picture of the mountain.

People share their emotions and feelings about the time the hill was built and how their life has changes because of that. First it was just a usual courtyard for locals with some trees and carpark, but after the hill construction it became multifunctional public space, with a sport hall inside of the hill and open landscape on the top. Now locals have their own mountain pick, that challenge them to use their bodies in a different way. The hill is always open for residents activities, at the winter time is a perfect for a sleigh ride, in the summer it is a place for a peaceful nature experience, or a picnic, or climbing exercises, or even a movie watching. Yeah, the movie about the hill was shown at the hill directly.

Of course I came back to the place next day to see urban life around, and to see how the hill encourage inhabitants in their everyday life.

Well that Saturday the sport hall became a fashion flea market, and it was full of people inside. But when i climbed on the top it was very quietly and undisturbed. The whole world was at my feet.

Thanks to the Italian collective ZimmerFrei for that wonderful and imaginary portrait of the place!

There are also some pictures of the place taken by me. Enjoy!

METROPOLIS BIENNALE 2011

August 2, 2011 3 comments

Metropolis Biennale is a festival of art and performance in the city. This year festival is organised by Copenhagen International Theater with support of Art Council, Performing Arts Committee and Copenhagen Commune.

There are gonna be presented many art performances, installations and activities in Copenhagen during August. Everything you can imagine in between human being and urban space.

The city becomes an open stage.

Starting from inside space of the city sporthalls and clubs events will continue to squares and harbours. Finally some of the perfomances will take place at the Amager beach where nature, the sea and windmills will greet you.

Some of performances offer to dissolve in urban environment with a help of blind pathes through the city noises and smells. For example there will be offered a tour through the hidden tunnels of the city that filles with 20 performers as a  human sculptures on the way.

The city becomes a storyteller.

One of the city hotels will tell a story about its invisible stuff people, that get a chance to come out from behind the scenes. As a participant you can snoop in their secrets and everyday life.

It will be also possible to influence the city on your own, if you take part in folding the giant paper boat, that supposed to sail through city harbour with an artist on board. Or you can try to build a city room yourself at the Prags Boulevard, just don’t forget tools! Or you can send a sms about where is the best place for 100 dancers to meet in the city and join their colourful crowd afterwards!

Art in all formats.

There are expected art in all formats in the city, all you can imagine.  There will be performance from Ny Circus in the truck, Soundart in the Black Diamant Library, flashmobs at subway stations, world famous street dancers on the stage, four writers at the main train station that are busy with writing a reality novel, or even an open air concert with 500 instruments that are routes by wind.

There will be presented 19 performing activities from different artists all over the world. Many of those events are free to join.

My participation.

I’m going take part in performance Bodies in Urban Space as a guide for the audience. I’m also looking forward to see many of performance as a watcher, and you will find pictures and emotions from me here.

Tonight I’m going to join 100 dancers Live Art Installations (happening), that starts from Sankt Hans Torv and continue to Kongens Have.

Look for more details here http://www.100dancers.dk