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Izyum to Liverpool charts poignant journey as part of EuroFestival

Liverpool Cathedral is hosting a thought-provoking installation which takes viewers on a real-time, one-way journey of escape through Ukraine.

Izyum to Liverpool, which is part of the EuroFestival cultural programme surrounding the city’s hosting of this year’s song contest, is the work of Ukrainian artist Katya Buchatska.

Multi-channel video footage running on 12 screens charts a 24-hour rail journey through the current Ukrainian landscape from Eastern Ukraine to the Polish border.

The moving footage was shot on 12 cameras, and shines a light on liberated Ukrainian cities, where buildings have been destroyed by bomb shelling and artillery fire, as well as offering views of apparently stiller Western cities, paying homage to the spirit and resilience of the Ukrainian people.

The Kyiv-based artist reveals she had the idea for the work while travelling by train in her homeland last year, and becoming aware of an small hammer next to a window with a sign saying ‘break in case of emergency’.

“But as I sat there, I realised it was dangerous outside too, and that there were no safe spaces in Ukraine,” she explains. “That was the starting point for me.”

Above: The train journey footage is running in real time on 12 screens, six on each side of the nave at Liverpool Cathedral

Top: Artist Katya Buchatska in Liverpool Cathedral. Photo by Gareth Jones.

When she was approached about creating a work for the Eurovision cultural programme for Liverpool, which is hosting Eurovision on behalf of Ukraine, she remembered that journey and her feelings looking out of the window.

Buchatska assembled a film crew, composer (George Potopalasky) and editor, and hired a whole carriage on a train to create the continuous footage which travels from Izyum west via Kharkiv, Poltava, Kyiv, Vinnytsia, Ternopil and Lviv.

She says: “For many, the train is the only means to escape war. Railway workers are considered heroes, risking their lives to help people travel out of the country.

“Izyum to Liverpool is about the fragility of our environment, our lives and of the landscape surrounding us. It is about the loss of certainties, of home, without knowing if you will ever be able to return. It is a one-way journey. It provokes a shift in the state of mind. Even if you are farther away from the front line, and in a safer environment, this feeling of loss and uncertainty stays with you.”

Above: The route taken by artist Katya Buchatska and the Izyum to Liverpool film crew.

The Dean of Liverpool, The Very Rev Dr Sue Jones, added: “It’s a huge honour for the city of Liverpool to be hosting the Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of Ukraine and we’re looking forward to showcasing such a poignant Ukrainian artwork at Liverpool Cathedral during EuroFestival.

“We’re extremely grateful to Katya Buchatska, who is based in Kyiv, for this powerful reminder of why the event is happening in Liverpool. I would like to encourage visitors to take a moment for quiet contemplation as we reflect on the plight of the Ukrainian people.”

Izyum to Liverpool is at Liverpool Cathedral from May 1-19 and is free to experience.


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