Culture In Depth, 20/08/2017

Music, Poetry and Joy Overflow Izium Riverside for Two Days

Definitely, a special gift of Kharkiv writer and the head of a charitable foundation Serhiy Zhadan in addition to his poetry and performing is his ability to unite creative artists and interesting people in exciting places. A two-day festival attracted popular Ukrainian poets, musicians, and visitors from East and West of the country.

Since the afternoon of August 18, most of the guests with their families and friends were arranging the campsite on the banks of Siverskyi Donets river near Ivanivka village. Kharkiv Plast members also put their tents there.


Therefore the inspiring atmosphere of “The Road to the East” festival started with incredible landscape viewing and bathing in the river’s cool water.


The main stage was installed in the Fazenda Vinograd eco guest house, where some visitors also stayed, over the forestry valley.


At sunset, Zhadan presented his project, Mannerheim Line. The poet recited his lyrics accompanied by two musicians. A motley audience was dancing and singing. The majority of guests were Kharkiv volunteers, activists and youth.




“Not only enjoying the music and literature but meeting people of the same mindset and the same “wave length” is the festival’s particular feature,” says the activist and film director Volodymyr Chistilin. “Everyone is enjoying the atmosphere greatly! It’s a rare opportunity to have a good time and meet friends.”


Under the twinkling stars spilled on the dark sky, the performance in the spirit of medieval morality “Albert or the Highest Form of Execution” started. This is an ironic story of a swindler who sold his soul to the devil to avoid death but in spite of that was publicly burned. Author Yuriy Andruchovych with the double bass player Mark Tokar and the ethnic singer Ulyana Gorbachevska performed on stage. Anatoly Belov illustrated the play with his spontaneously appearing graphic.


The ArtPole group with their famous spectacle have been traveling all over Ukraine and abroad since its premiere on dark February 21, 2014, when the show was sold out completely. The play raising eternal questions of life and death some hundred kilometers from the war zone became the fest’s art bomb.


The next day all the activity moved to Izium where the opening of the biggest John Lennon mural and the fair of handmade crafts took place. Town residents and visitors watched the writers performing at different spots. In the evening the musicians of a dozen bands played on a big stage near the river.

The concert was unique at uniting the artists from Izium and other parts of the Kharkiv region with the ones from several Donbas towns.

“This Road to the East is currently one of the main roads in Ukraine towards the ATO zone; the military men, volunteers, and doctors use it,” says the concert presenter, poet, and artist Artyom Polezhaka.

The locals note this has been the first large-scale art festival in Izium since the 1990s.

Perhaps the only event’s shortcoming was an abnormal heat of these days. Happily, as mentioned earlier, the event took place by the river, which helped people to handle it.

“Such beautiful places you have here in the East,” says Ulyana Gorbachevska, the artist from Lviv. “In Western Ukraine, we usually go on tours nearby in the Carpathians. However, these Izium forests and river bank are so picturesque. I promise to come here next summer for paddling with my friends.”

scenic view


Report, Photos: Olena Sokolynska