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On the cover
7 (2014)
Tunnelling Towards Hope

28 February - 6 March 2014

Ukraine History

A Stronghold of Rulers and Rebels

With the recent death toll jumping to nearly 100 and 1,000 injured, Hrushevskoho Street, one of the strongholds of EuroMaidans three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the countrys stand against government corruption, abuse of power, and the violation of human rights turned from peaceful protest to all-out revolution. Having witnessed much over the years, Hrushevskoho is a street with a history, and not only care of recent days.


Ukraine Today
Acelebrity using their status and intelligence to influence public views and opinion is rarely seen in modern society, even less so in Ukraine. Here, the majority of celebs use their time, effort, and money to enhance or further their career rather than put their name to something that can do good for others. However, as EuroMaidan intensifies, some are making themselves heard and they fall either side of the EuroMaidan divide.
It used to be that when rebellion and revolution occurred, the intellectual, creative, and spiritual elite would be front and centre.


Ukrainian Culture

When Walls Can Talk

People have been writing on walls since the dawn of civilisation, we call it graffiti, and ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Sometimes it is merely the creator wanting to leave his or her mark; sometimes there is an underlying social or political reason. And it is due to the latter that graffiti has exploded across Kyiv in recent months. Anti dictator messages aside, we peel back a few layers of paint to look at graffiti in the city in general.


Active Kyiv

Free as a Bird

The sensation of freefall feels more like flying than falling, albeit clumsily. Yet, this is a freefall that requires no aircraft and no parachute; in fact, youre never far from the ground at all. Whats On goes into a freefall simulator here in Kyiv and gains an insight into why birds sing.

Its a bizarre sensation, at first you are lying face-down in a perspex tube on a loosely woven mesh of wires, the only thing that betrays what is about to happen next is the roar of the huge fan below you. You are aware the wind speed generated is increasing, but what happens next still takes you by surprise; this is not a gradual or gentle process. Suddenly, your body arches and you are propelled upward. At first it is unnerving, you feel like you are being lifted and plummeting helplessly simultaneously, yet you are hovering maybe 1 or 2 metres above where you started. At this point, you have only two choices panic or enjoy the ride...

Freefall Crash-Course
Its an assignment I approach with a mix of trepidation and excitement. Photographer Kateryna Tsarkova and I are headed to an area on the edge of Kyivs city limits known as Chaika. Appropriately for what we are about to do, Chaika translates as seagull, and we are about to emulate the seabird as closely as possible for humans by experiencing the sensation of flying. To do this, weve enlisted the help of Aerofly, a company started in October to offer the first (and only) freefall simulator in Ukraine. The simulator is a short distance from the Chaika Raceway and Aerodrome and we are greeted by instructor Denys upon arrival.
Denys is a gentle giant he needs to be, it is he who will ensure our safety in the tube, he also has an affable manner that puts you at ease immediately. First is a quick course to instruct us how to achieve maximum air resistance in flight. First, the stance, feet should be at least a shoulder width apart and rather than locking legs straight, you should maintain flexibility at the knees. Next, arms should be held up, at 90 degrees from the body with forearms also at 90 degrees. The squarer your body, the more you will rise up, it is very important to be symmetrical, he tells us. When you are up, look around and not down. Finally, we should push our stomachs out, creating an arched back, he says. It doesnt seem a lot to remember...we think.

Suited Up And Ready
The next step is to don flight suits. They are basically thick canvas overalls thick, bulky, and with a series of handles, which, as we are to discover, allow Denys to manoeuvre us into various positions in-flight. The flight suit is complemented with a balaclava and finally a helmet. The combination gives you a slightly detached feel from the outset. But you have little time to think of this: upon leaving the shipping container that doubles as an office and changing room, you are forced to clamber up the steps that lead to the tube. Its daunting, the wires that keep you above the fan are loosely woven and move as you step on them. Its a marvel to me how Denys maintains his footing, and its a relief to lie sprawled across them. The roar of the fan is muted at first, but it builds to a helicopter-like whirr. I feel like I have been apprehended by the FBI, I have assumed flight-position but I could just as easily be about to undergo a pat-down. The roar of the fan builds, and suddenly an uncanny feeling of weightlessness starts to kick in. First, I feel my legs lift, then my arms; those sensations have barely time to register when suddenly my whole body is thrust upward. I feel helpless, every instinct is to flail, and in those first few seconds I feel like a rag-doll. It annoys me. Then everything Denys said to do floods back.

Hows The Air Up There
Panic, adrenaline, focus, whatever it is thats kicked in, I am determined to use it to regain control. And it works. My faltering flight suddenly becomes easy. Its peaceful, serene, and it gives Denys a chance to show what the carry handles are for. Im floating on my back, Denys has flipped me and its easier work to be honest, and looking at blue sky and late afternoon shafts of sunlight while seemingly floating has a dreamlike quality that, well, I can only replicate in dreams. Its five minutes, in reality much longer than a genuine free-fall; strangely it feels like an eternity and the blink of an eye simultaneously. Then its over, You are a strong man, Denys tells me. In fact, I feel like an over-excited puppy, jittery, bouncy, likely to pee, and its a feeling that will linger for a while. The adrenaline is coursing through my veins.

A Photographers Eye
Its Katerynas turn and here, in her own poetic words, is her experience as she floats above an airstream of 67 metres per second. When you get into the aero tube you understand you left your whole life beyond the perspex wall and youre left to go face to face with the power of nature. Then a powerful stream lifts you up in the air and you feel like a paper plane that is about to fly away. The feeling of weightlessness, easiness and an absence of thoughts overwhelm you. Dressing up in a flight suit and holding hands with an instructor with whom you trust your life you fly into a completely different world, a world without fuss and problems. The five-minute flight seems like eternity. You soar above the ground, give all of yourself to the rush of air and the noise, you scream loudly, you offload tension in favour of pure escapism. This is a great way t recharge yourself with positive energy. Shes right. Its a must do experience and Ill do it again.

by Jared Morgan

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Comments (1)
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Aseil | 29.05.2014 22:46

Great end-note on your departure. Thanks for parcptiiating in the Oxford Conference. Will you be able to return to Kyiv for the final MODEL UKRAINE Conference on November 23&24, 2012?Ihor Bardyn

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    Ukraine Truth
    Rights We Didnt Know We Had

    Throughout EuroMaidan much has been made of Ukrainians making a stand for their rights. What exactly those rights are were never clearly defined. Ukraine ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1952. The first article of the Declaration states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, they are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. The ousted and overthrown Ukrainian government showed to the world they dont understand the meaning of these words.

    Kyiv Culture

    Pulling Strings
    Located on Hrushevskoho Street the epicentre of EuroMaidan violence, home to battles, blazes and barricades childrens favourite the Academic Puppet Theatre had to shut down in February. Nevertheless, it is getting ready to reopen this March with a renewed repertoire to bring some laughter back to a scene of tragedy. Operating (not manipulating) puppets is a subtle art that can make kids laugh and adults cry. Whats On meets Mykola Petrenko, art director of the Theatre, to learn more about those who pull the strings behind the show.


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