[POST]Industrial Urals: Perm after the revolution

The Perm Gate art project was conceived by Nikolai Polissky (the ideologist behind the Archstoyanie project) in 2011. The work is situated in the square dedicated to Perm’s 250th anniversary, near the main railway station Perm 2.

The Perm Gate art project was conceived by Nikolai Polissky (the ideologist behind the Archstoyanie project) in 2011. The work is situated in the square dedicated to Perm’s 250th anniversary, near the main railway station Perm 2.

Sergey Poteryaev
Perm’s cultural revolution began in 2008 under art gallery owner Marat Gelman. How did his renovation come to an end?
Perm is located in the eastern part of European Russia (895 miles from Moscow). The city lies on the banks of the Kama river and is one of the hubs of industry, science, and logistics in the Urals.
The city traces its roots back to the construction of a copper smelting plant at the confluence of the Kama and Yegoshikh rivers in 1723. The construction project was the work of renowned historian, statesman, and engineer Vasily Tatischev, who also had a hand in the genesis of Yekaterinburg.
Perm’s cultural revolution began in 2008 under art gallery owner Marat Gelman. The initiative received the backing of the senator for the Perm region, Sergei Gordeev, and the former governor, Oleg Chirkunov.
The inscription “Power” is one of the "cultural objects" created during that revolution. It is inscribed in reinforced concrete outside the city’s Legislative Assembly. The project’s author says it gives the authorities an opportunity to view themselves with criticism and self-irony, while for the the public it illustrates that real power lies with the people.
It was the opening of the Russian Povera Exhibition inside Ruchnoy Station that gave impetus to the cultural changes. The station building later housed the Perm Museum of Contemporary Art (PERMM). Currently closed for renovation, the building's future is uncertain.
Today's Perm is one of the largest economic centers in Russia. In terms of industrial output the city ranks first in the Urals, ahead of the numerically superior Yekaterinburg and Chelyabinsk.
The city’s top industries are electric power, oil and gas refining, machine-building, chemicals, and petrochemicals.
Early 2013 saw the resignation of Oleg Chirkunov, after which rumor spread of the cultural project’s imminent demise. Given that all the initiatives have now ceased, it was obviously not idle chatter.
Talking to the locals, one hears a constant stream of unflattering opinions of the cultural events that took place. They all add up to the same thing: people do not understand why such sums were spent on the fine arts when the city is rife with other problems.
The former home of the “little red men” of the art group Professors is a symbol of Perm’s culture. Their presence received a hostile reception from the locals. As a result of protests against the new cultural policy, the little red men were removed.
Another notable feature of the new cultural policy was the appearance of new bus shelters, designed by Lebedev Studio. Now almost all of them are in a dilapidated condition.
Perm’s population is about 1 million. In the Soviet period from 1940 to 1957 the city was called Molotov.
The portrait of Russian poet Sergei Yesenin is one of the examples of public art on the streets of Perm.
The words “Money down the drain” inscribed near the Perm Gate installation encapsulate most residents’ attitude to the city’s so-called cultural revolution.
The best-known and still-standing (since the locals liked it) cultural object is a sign bearing the phrase “Happiness is on the horizon,” located behind the riverside station on the banks of the Kama.
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