Vyksa: The Perfection of Thoughtful Solutions. Part 2

Paulina Firstova
The next day, we headed to the factory, more precisely to the Industrial Street Art Park. Due to the spontaneous nature of our trip, we hadn't been inspected by the security service to enter the workshops. However, such a route does exist, and I'm sure it's incredibly impressive! It's a bright spot on the map of industrial tourism in our country.

In 2018, a competition was announced for the development of the concept of an industrial street art park initiated by the team of the "Art Ovrag" festival the previous year. The winner was curator and art historian Olga Pogasova. Russian contemporary artists interested in industrial themes were invited to participate.

The project is being implemented within the enterprise and aims to enrich the experience of its employees by creating interaction with them. Collaboration with the workers fills the factory space with new meanings, allowing a reevaluation of everyday life and an understanding of the scale and importance of their work.

Currently, on the facades of the production workshops, guests of the enterprise will see "Evolution-2" — the largest wall painting in the world, executed by one artist, Misha Most, the painting "Stop — go. Barn in Normandy" by one of the founders of social art, Eric Bulatov, as well as the mural "Detail" in the cubist style by Moscow artist Alexey Luka.
Let's delve deeper into each one.

The artist who was the first to be selected to implement his sketch as part of the new street art park development program was Alexey Luka, whose creative style is oriented towards abstraction. Yes, that very Alexey Luka, whose solo exhibition recently took place at Ruarts Gallery on Zachatevsky Lane in Moscow, and thanks to whose works Ruarts Gallery won the "Best Stand" award at the Cosmoscow 2023 contemporary art fair.

Alexey's graffiti is an expressive multicolored work of geometric shapes, in which exaggerated images of factory parts and machines can be seen. "The idea was quite simple. As soon as I learned about this project, I immediately wanted to show the inner life of the factory and make a small interpretation of what is happening inside the workshop — what people don't see, what is hidden from them," the author explains.
To create the mural, factory workers were involved to advise on what they consider to be key in their work. The artist aimed for his work to fully reflect the spirit of the place. As a result, it became one of the favorites among the factory workers, largely due to their active participation in the creative process.

Misha Most was the second artist chosen for the project. He developed a monumental painting covering an area of 10,800 m² - the largest single mural on a building facade in the world. The work, titled "Evolution-2," covers the facade of the "Stan-5000" industrial complex. The artist worked with five assistants and created the painting over 45 days, taking breaks due to rainy weather.
"Future is always associated with a certain kind of change, in society, in its structure, in the human himself, in his psychology, physiology, his relationship with society, relationship with the environment, nature, etc.

Integral graphic elements of the project, for example, are a scientist-human, a robotized human, a humanoid-android. Also, elements from chemistry, physics, and other sciences. As well as the "Notes" of these "scientists." I'm trying to visualize the thoughts in the head of the researcher, the seeker, some picture of the society of the future..", says Misha Most.
Misha's project was selected in an open competition "Vyksa 10 000", the jury of which included famous artists, architects, and designers. In total, the organizers of the competition received 260 applications, including sketches from 34 countries, such as Japan, Australia, as well as countries in Latin and Central America.

According to the assessment of the project organizers from the association "Artmosphere", specializing in street art, Misha Most's work is currently recognized as the largest monumental wall painting in the world, authored by one artist.
The third in the collection of the Industrial Street Art Park was a fresco by Eric Bulatov.

Eric Bulatov is a classic, one of the founders of conceptualism and social art. The only Russian artist to have exhibited his works both at the Louvre and the Pompidou.

The artist's creations explore the boundaries between artistic space and social reality: slogan-letters on posters enter into dialogue with the depth and perspective characteristic of classical painting. Even if you are not a fan of contemporary art, you are most likely familiar with several of Bulatov's works from childhood — magical illustrations for Andersen's and Perrault's fairy tales, created jointly with the artist Oleg Vasiliev.

The artist's sketch was brought to life with the participation of six assistants over 20 days. 400 liters of paint, 678 aerosol cans, and four lifts were used.

The work is a blend of two works: "Stop — Go" (1974) and "Barn in Normandy" (2013). What unites them? The conflict of two opposing principles — volume and flatness, dynamics and statics, darkness and light. According to the artist, these principles interact constructively, forming an image reflecting the era. For Bulatov, this was his first experience in the genre of street art.
The unveiling of the work turned into a performance "Machine Rhapsody" by Fedor Pavlov-Andreevich and Svyatoslav Ponomarev, filling it with industrial rituals.

An element of the performance was the arrival of guests to the fresco (on the same buses that daily transport employees to work at the Vyksa Metallurgical Plant), as well as the customary welcoming speeches for such events. After the formal part, the mystery began, involving an old bulldozer, a factory crane, factory chains, and powerful lights. The triple strike of a fragment of a railway wheel against a metal pipe proclaimed the beginning of the performance, which lasted 15 minutes. This is exactly how long Bulatov's first personal exhibition in 1965 at the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow lasted — not having time to open, it was closed by the KGB staff.

The work immediately impresses. The courage of the organizers, perhaps even more so, but later. Bringing a 87-year-old artist from Paris, and even in Covid times, seems like something out of fiction. But when there is an idea... remember, I wrote about it at the beginning?

The cyclopean dimensions of the works themselves make them rarities. When you are at the factory, the first thing that is felt is the scale of everything: size, personality, courage, team, and, of course, the enterprise.
On the factory grounds, you'll also find the tower — a hyperboloid — created by the constructivist architect and inventor Vladimir Shukhov. This historical legacy was carefully preserved and, additionally, underwent restoration in 2016.

Vladimir Shukhov's life was accompanied by the title of "Russian Edison" and the status of Russia's first engineer. His unique engineering solutions were first presented at the All-Russian Exhibition of 1896 in Nizhny Novgorod. There, he presented the hyperboloid tower with a metal mesh, exhibition pavilions with suspended coverings, and cylindrical lattice vaults. The tower became a commercial hit, thanks to its convenient and economical construction, surpassing ordinary water towers in strength. Shukhov received numerous orders for the construction of factory workshops, railway platforms, and water towers. Interestingly, the first orders came from Vyksa, where the engineer was invited immediately after the exhibition.
To conclude our trip, we decided on Vyksa public art. There are over a hundred objects in the city. We'll focus on those we managed to see: the unicorn, the pavilion of the future in Vyksa Park, and the sculpture "On the Bird Wave" on the embankment.

A prominent sculptor from Hungary, Gabor Soek, creates monumental images of animals from steel plates and wooden boards, adorning various corners of the world with them. In his project for the park in Vyksa, Soek originally conceived the figure of a puma, but a unicorn intervened in his plans—the same one that adorns the city's coat of arms. Initially, the sculptor intended to cover the six-meter unicorn with a layer of gold, but then decided to preserve its natural shade of wood — thus, this marvelous creation blends more harmoniously with the natural greenery of the park.
The symbol of the park in Vyksa and one of the most popular locations for photo shoots. The pavilion is a unique example of parametric architecture in Russia, inspired by the futuristic creations of Zaha Hadid, where architecture intertwines with mathematics. Originally created as a platform for urban initiatives, the pavilion has now turned into a place where lectures, workshops, exhibitions, and film screenings are actively held. At the top is an observation deck, offering a stunning view of the pond.
If you hear birds singing in the middle of the embankment in winter, don't rush to consult specialists. Everything is much less strange than it may seem at first glance.
The sound sculpture "On the Bird Wave" was presented on the embankment of the Upper Pond during the first weekend of the "Vyksa" festival in 2023. This is the newest art object in Vyksa. The composition won the project competition for the "Empty Pedestal."
OMK and "OMK-Uchastie" do not plan to stop at what has been achieved but continuously look ahead. Currently, active construction is underway near the embankment for the industrial-tourist "Shukhov Park." In the historical center of Vyksa, on the site of the former iron foundry of the OMK plant, a new urban park is taking shape. This project illustrates the successful merger of industrial heritage and culture aimed at revitalizing the urban environment for locals and visitors alike. The park is being built in close proximity to the historic cascade ponds belonging to the first plant of the Batashev brothers, founded in the XVIII century. Conceptually, it is designed into three functional zones: museum-historical, family, and active recreation areas.

The facilities will be gradually put into operation, with the opening planned for 2027. At that time, visitors will have access to the restored tower and vaults, built at the end of the XIX — beginning of the XX century according to Shukhov's engineer project. The "Quantorium," craft workshops, and exhibition gallery will also start operating. One of the key objects in "Shukhov Park" will be the museum complex "Center for Industrial Progress," created using the architectural concept of the well-known St. Petersburg bureau "Studio 44" and the Moscow bureau Pitch. Children's playgrounds, a rope park, a bike trail are already implemented, the construction of a hotel and cafe is nearing completion, making the facility unique across the country.

OMK has become pioneers and vividly demonstrated to owners of many large enterprises how important a thoughtful and systematic approach to shaping the urban environment is.
In our time, corporate investments are becoming an integral part of the urban landscape. Various companies actively invest in social projects, and the trend will only intensify: business plays a key role in shaping the modern atmosphere in the city.

The paradigm of "Smart City 2.0" emphasizes the role of the individual at the center, where intelligent technologies serve as tools to solve social problems and improve quality of life. Corporations, in turn, seek to improve the economic, educational, and cultural situation in cities. This strategic alliance also expresses corporate interests, as a high standard of living in local communities becomes a critical factor in attracting highly qualified specialists.

In regional cities, creating a favorable environment often depends on local enterprises, which, in addition to their main functions, act as consultants and financiers in cooperation with authorities. Unlike capital cities, where consulting companies and the budget play a key role, in the regions, these functions are taken on by large employers.

I answer the main question — isn't this a dream? No, it's more like waking up from it for a while. You seem to wake up and start perceiving everything differently, then, of course, you fall asleep again.