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special projects

Curator of special projects Alisa Prudnikova

Special projects are oriented toward local inscription: these are site-specific projects interacting with live factory contexts. Artists' projects are not only industrially framed-they themselves are called upon to act as frames and pinpoint interventions that change the cultural status of operating industrial facilities. The main goal of special projects is to change the public perception of industry, to bring plants and factories back to the quotidian urban context. Their mammoth gray spots on the map of the city are easily accessible to the electronic eye of Google Maps, but are hidden from the casual citizen’s eye behind their fences and are quite formless in his/her imagination. For today’s citizen of Ekaterinburg industrial enterprises have dissolved into toponyms that mark landscapes that had formed around the factories, but lost their meaningful core when industry disappeared from the topical cultural context.

In 2007 the NCCA (Ekaterinburg) initiated the program «Ural Factories: Industries of Meaning," called upon to combine several art traditions, from socialist realism and its attention to «the man of labor» to Ekaterinburg actionism of the 1990s which directly worked with the city space; from personal artistic mythologizing to major mystifications like the ones by the group «Where the Dogs Run.» The first step of that program was the literal squatting in the former construction and repair headquarters dubbed the festival-laboratory «The Art Factory»; the second-the homonymous international festival of modern art on the territory of an operating worsted factory. As was immediately apparent, the symbolic emptiness of industrial objects does not signify an owner’s absence, and working on factory territories means strict admittance procedures, photography bans, and multi-level coordination. The external economical and technological hurdles have, nonetheless, their conceptual meaning as well: industrial space as such resists artistic intervention, and organizational difficulties merely add their own contribution to the «resistance of the material.» It is precisely such resistance, however, that gives artistic energy to those who come to the factories to organize exhibitions and itself becomes a constructive principle, uniting the work of the artist, the curator and the administrator.

The «invisibility» of the industrial facilities that are still the basis of the regional economy is paradoxical: it is not the inevitable de-topicalization of history-it is the absence of one’s own reflection in the mirror. Contemporary art, capable of reconsidering the relation of material and symbolic production, creative and mechanical labor, physical and semiotic consumption, not only finds this paradoxical context bountiful in material-it also changes that context, thereby playing an important role in the reformatting of the cultural space of the Urals and the optics it dictates.


Verkh-Isetskiy Metallurgical Plant

The history of Verkh-Isetskiy plant is essentially the pre-history of Ekaterinburg: the founding of the city is directly related to the exploration of the Ural and the industrial activity in the region throughout the 18th century. The construction of Verkh-Isetskiy plant on the river Iset' began on March 1, 1721. Vasily Tatishchev, then the manager of the mining factories, proposed the construction of new large ironworks. However, the Berg-Coolegium did not approve of the idea, arguing that there were «plenty of ironworks everywhere already». Later on Tatishchev was proven right: it was the export of iron that made the Urals famous world-wide. Major-General Georg Wilhelm de Gennin, a mining engineer, persisted with Tatishchev’s initiative, resuming the construction of the plant. As a result, Tsarina Anna’s Verkh-Isetskiy State Iron-Making Plant was built on top of a dam that formed the Verkh-Isetskiy pond.

In the early 20th century a joint-stock company of the Verkh-Isetskiy factories was founded. Around the same time the plant launched the production of anisotropic steel, which heralded its future specialization in the manufacturing of transformer steel, the first plant in Russia to do so.

In January 1918 the Verkh-Isetsky plant was nationalized and renamed «Red Roof». In the Soviet period the plant primarily supplied the electrical engineering industry with transformer steel. In November 1973 the plant launched its cold-rolling department, the largest in Europe. VIZ-Stal' Ltd. was established on the basis of this department in 1998.

List of artists

1. Kirill Asse, Anna Ratafieva

Repose, 2010


2. Yury Vassiliev, Carl Michael von Hausswolff

Red – Red, 2010

Curators: Elena Tsvetaeva, Evgeny Umansky, Yulia Bardun

(Kaliningrad Branch of the NCCA)

Light installation

3. Alexey Dyomin

Tetris, 2010

Light Installation

4. Katya Pugach

Lightning, 2010

Light Installation

5. Leonid Tishkov

Private Moon (2003–2010)

Mobile Installation

The Ural Heavy Engineering Plant (UZTM, Uralmash)

The Uralmash is a plant that has structured a vast residential area of the city of Ekaterinburg, created a large resource of jobs for the local population, and played a crucial role in the shaping of the industrial outlook of the capital of the Urals. Founded in the 20th century, the UZTM became a local symbol of Sverdlovsk and had a major impact on all spheres of the city’s life.

The blueprint of the would-be plant was designed in 1928 by the Institute for the Project Planning of New Ironworks. The project drew on Western European and North American technological achievements in the sphere of heavy mechanical engineering. In order to provide the plant with highly-skilled workers and qualified engineering cadres special provisions were made for the creation of a training center and large-scale housing construction. Gradually, the project for a socialist city was being implemented, with its residential area located to the north of the plant. Today it is a vast district of Yekaterinburg with a population of 200,000 people.

The Ural Heavy Engineering Plant began to operate on July 15, 1933. It specialized in the manufacturing of excavators, crushers, blast furnaces and their components, rolling mills, steel making equipment, sintering machines, hydraulic presses, etc. The plant also manufactured and supplied combat vehicles and armaments, contributing greatly to the Soviet war effort during WWII. After the war Uralmash grew into a leading company not only in the USSR, but also in the world. It was the first to launch the serial production of excavators for rock quarries and borrow pits with buckets 3–5 m3 large; it produced the first dragline excavator, as well as the first rolling mill for hot seamless rolling.

In 2007, As a result of the agreement between the OMZ (the Uralmaash-Izhora Group) and Metalloinvest to create of a common manufacturing complex, the Uralmash became a part of the joint venture «Machine-Building Corporation „Uralmash“». A classical product of the Soviet system which was awarded with dozens of awards, the plant has had a hard time adjusting to the post-Soviet reality. Now it faces a new challenge — rethinking and reinventing itself in the post-industrial world. This process should draw on the symbolic meanings accumulated by the Uralmash over the years. Due to the sheer scale of the plant and its significance as the «plant of plants», the process of working through these meanings will certainly have a profound impact on the cultural space of the city.

List of artists

1.Gennady Vlasov

Favorite Pictures, 2010

Curators: Alisa Prudnikova, Marina Sokolovskaya

Audio guide, excursion

2.Viktor Davydov

Concert at the Workers' Noon, 2010

Audio Performance

The Liberation of Labour, 2010

Curators: Gleb Ershov, Stanislav Savitsky


3. Olga Kisseleva, Silvan Reynal

Our Time, 2010                       

Interactive installation

4. Gleb Kosorukov

A Hundred Stakhanovites, 2009

Multimedia installation

5. «Mylo» group

Working Week, 2010


6. Vladimir Nasedkin, Tatyana Badanina

I'm James Bond (or Spy Games), 2010

Painting, objects, video

7. Vladimir Seleznev, Ivan Snigirev

Metropolis, 2010


8. Vladislav Tarik

The One with The Song, 1988

Documentary film, 24'

9. Evgeny Umansky



10. Anastasia Khoroshilova

Art and Life, 2010


Sverdlovsk Worsted Factory

Sverdlovsk Worsted Factory was initially conceived of after the end of WWII as a textile factory «Tekhnotkan'" that was meant to supply technical textile to the RTI plant. However, its construction was suspended for unknown reasons to be resumed ten years later, with an idea to transform the textile factory into a worsted mill. Boris Yeltsin, then a fresh graduate, was appointed a foreman in one of the units of the construction site. He stayed on this job up until the first stage of construction was completed.

The full-fledged functioning of the factory began in 1958. Its output, running capacity and volume of production earned Sverdlovsk Worsted Factory a place among the 10 top mills of the USSR. It had 5 spinning workshops, 2 weaving workshops, and 2 printing and dying workshops employing a total of 3,000 workers and engineers. The textiles designed and produced by the Sverdlovsk Worsted Factory were exhibited at the All-Union Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy (VDNKh) under the brand name «Stone Flower» (a tribute to a famous Ural writer P.Bazhov). In the 1970s the factory earned an official recognition as a company adhering to «high standards of production».

Nowadays the monthly output of Sverdlovsk Worsted Factory is anywhere between 70,000 and 80,000 meters of wool. In 1994 the mill received a license that entitles it to use the prestigious international certification mark «Woolmark» in recognition of the excellent quality of its wool products.

In 2009 the premises of the Sverdlovsk Worsted factory became the venue of the International Festival of Contemporary Art «Art-Zavod».

List of artists

1. Tatiana Akhmetgalieva

РЎlotho, 2010


2. Irina Danilova

Industrial 59'', 2010


3. Irina Danilova

Wall of Fame, 2010

Installation, wall-painting

4. Alisa Ioffe

Sheep-Shearing, 2010

Monumental Panel

5. Tania Mouraud

Niagara, 2009

Video, 8'24''

6. Leonid Tishkov

Dubloid Production Shop, 2009–2010

Video Timofey Radya

Installation, video, posters

7. Stefan Shankland

Work is Art is Work is Art is..., 2010


8. Olga Jurgenson

Glory To Capitalism! (2), 2010

Video, 4'13''

Time, Forward! 2010

Video, 3'31''

Ordzhonikidzevskiy District’s Cultural Center (the former Uralmash Palace of Culture)

The building of the Uralmash Palace of Culture (1929) was initially designed and constructed as a communal kitchen — a popular type of building in constructivist architecture. The architect Valery Paramonov, who designed several such buildings, worked on the project with Moisei Reisher and Bela Scheffler, the famous Bauhaus graduate. The building consisted of two parts — the production facilities, where the kitchen was placed, and the trade space occupied by dining halls, a snack bar and a buffet. Soon after the divided space was replaced by a network of workers' canteens. However, at the request of Sergo Ordzhonikidze, People’s Commissar for Heavy Industry, the building was rebuilt to house a club named after Stalin, which in the 1960s was renamed the Uralmash Palace of Culture.

After the new premises for the Uralmash Palace of Culture were completed in the early 1980s, the older constructivist building housed the Museum of the Uralmash and provided space of children’s after-school classes. These days the Palace of Culture is called Ordzhonikidzevskiy District Cultural Center and its future is uncertain: despite its constructivist expressiveness which would be envied in many European cities, the building is still not included in the list of the city’s architectural heritage sites.

List of artists

1. Gustavo Artigas


Interactive Installation

2. Vladislav Efimov, Sergey Leontyev

Communal Avant-Garde, 2010

Curators: Elena Belova, Alisa Savitskaya

Sound: Georgy Stefanov

Photography, Installation

3. «Where the dogs run »

Rise, 2010

Video, 3'