How art develops beyond the Arctic Circle17 december 2020
Norilsk is a unique city. Even though it is located far from the mainland, this does not prevent it from hosting international festivals, supporting young artists, building the northernmost museum of contemporary art or establishing an art residence. In Norilsk, you can find creative people from different cultures. It is a place where new art is created.
Norilsk, the northernmost city of Russia with a permanent population of more than 180,000 people, has a whole association of museums that successfully 'operates under the common name 'Museum of Norilsk'. The museum and exhibition complex consists of the main museum building, an art gallery, a museum branch in Talnakh, which is a Norilsk suburb, and an exhibition hall in Kayerkan.
The Museum of Norilsk is not an ordinary museum of local lore, but rather a modern cultural space that develops in several directions at the same time. The museum grows and expands, participates in many international and interregional projects and enriches its collection with new works of contemporary artists.
In March 2020, the museum held 'Tgau, Norilsk!', a festival of Swiss culture, as part of the annual 'Hello, Norilsk!' museum programme. The Museum of Norilsk and the Embassy of Switzerland in Russia have jointly prepared an extensive programme that included screenings of films about the history, culture and life of ordinary people in Switzerland, a large exhibition of Swiss posters, a presentation of books about the work of Swiss artists and accounts of travellers.
In 2021, people of Norilsk will get a chance to learn about the culture of China. The festival is scheduled for late November 2021.
In addition to international projects, Norilsk actively cooperates with cultural spaces throughout Russia. Currently, the main building of the museum hosts an interregional exhibition with unorthodox views at painting. 'Ono' (Russian for 'It'), a joint project of Moscow's Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve and the Museum of Norilsk, examines works of Soviet artists and sculptors from the 1970s from the perspective of the irrational. It explores what was described in the writings of Sigmund Freud and the works of Stephen King: the subconscious, that which can only partially be controlled.
It is interesting to see the highly ideological Soviet aesthetics collide with the subconsciousness of the artist in the paintings, ceramics, glassware and tapestries on display. Authors of these Soviet installations boldly experimented with different styles, materials and shapes. The exhibition is open until 7 February 2021.
Overall, the theme of new, contemporary art is very relevant to this northern city. In 2016, with the support of the city administration and the Nornickel company, the Museum of Norilsk opened PolArt, the first art residence in the Arctic.
PolArt is an unusual creative space that welcomes artists from all over Russia. Here they can paint, perform, create installations and hold master classes, lectures and film screenings. The studios are situated in the historical part of the city; the art residence also features an exhibition area where artists can showcase the works that they have created during their stay.
Normally, guests are invited for an extended period of time, ranging from 14 to 60 days. Participants are selected through an open competition, as a result of which the residence awards the most talented artists a cash grant, pays for their airfare and accommodation, as well as provides them with all necessary materials. Moreover, the artists themselves are free to choose the theme and form of their project, with the main condition being that all works created at PolArt must remain at the Museum of Norilsk.