Some photos © Andres Lejona
Nikolay Polissky is the only land-artist in modern Russian Art. Starting 2000th he was creating most his works in the village Nikola Lenivets, the Kaluga Region, four hours drive from Moscow, from expedient materials and in co-authorship with the local villagers. His art may be called Utopian, both in social and art sense. And moreover, this Utopia is materialized Utopia. In social determination, Polissky succeeded in depicting and reviving a semi-abandoned village, with help of Art turning it into a real cultural center (an international festival of landscape architecture “ArchStoyanie” has been passing here since 2003) and making its inhabitants real participants of a creative process. As to the artistic project of the artist, it is some kind of growing symbolic forms of world architecture in the Russian soil, from ancient times to modernism: the Roman snow aqueduct, Babylonian ziggurat of sheaves, branchwood constructed resemblances of Vladimir Shukhov’s Radiotower or the sky-scraper Defence Arch. Made of local materials and in technique referring to traditional village craftworks or funs, they discover universalism and naturalness of not only archetypical constructions, common to all cultures, but also of some natural phenomena like bird nests or beaver dams.
«Large Hadron Collider» is a work from a new project, invented by Nikolay Polissky. Now the unpuddled mirror of people’s conscience must reflect not classic inheritance of the World Architecture, but the latest scientific achievements. Strictly speaking, there was a work of this kind by Polissky – “Baykonur”, 2005: a huge installation consisting of models of rockets and launching systems entwined of twig. First exhibited in the yard of the Tretyakov’s gallery during the First Moscow Biennale of Modern Art, this installation was then transferred to Nikola Lenivets, where later it was burnt in the course of traditional Shrovetide fest. It was already there when science could have been read through prism of ritual and magic. Flame made the interlink between space rockets and their twigged copies. And the outflow to extraterrestrial space turned into burning bringing to memory funeral pyres that provide the dead to pass to the afterworld.
The «Hadron Collider» by Polissky and his co-authors, first of all interests with that half-mystical aureole mantling modern science. Contemporary scientists for Polissky are kind of oracles, privy to secrets of universe hidden for ordinary people, and maybe even capable to influence forces ruling the world. And that is not that far from truth: few of us can really explain how the Large Hadron Collider is constructed and what purposes it serves. Scientific world view, same as magical or religious world view may only be taken for granted. The « Large Hadron Collider» by Polissky and co-authors is a simulated implementation of that very machine, from which God may emerge.
In 1990, Nikolay Polissky, a ceramist by trade and predominantly a landscape painter, moved to the small abandoned village of Nikola-Lenivets, in the region of Kaluga, approximately 200 kilometres from Moscow. He forged a close alliance with the villagers there and started in 2000 working on artistic projects involving Land Art, architecture and walk-in sculptures. Over time various tower-like structures have come and gone, some taking on the Babylonian shapes of the ziggurats, others evoking medieval fortresses, another the famous broadcasting towers of Moscow… These projects, carried out with natural materials sourced on the spot, integrate into the landscape and anchor themselves within a territory. Above all, they are characterised by a community dimension essential to the artist, both in their implementation and the use that they provide. They are ephemeral works, evolving according to the seasons, as they decay and are recycled, even set alight to mark popular celebrations such as Mardi Gras. Beyond this transitory existence, however, they remain etched in the collective memory and embody a form of social utopia. Polissky’s projects in this village have resulted not just in an increase in activity but also in other artists taking up residence. Furthermore, 2006 saw the creation of the international architecture festival ArchStoyanie, enabling this rural province to enjoy a cultural upswing.
Polissky designed Large Hadron Collider on commission for Mudam. The work was freely inspired by the world’s largest particle accelerator bearing the same name, which was in- augurated in 2008 next to Geneva. With this series of monumental constructions in elm wood and rush, the artist occupies the Grand Hall as well as one of the former moats of the fortress on which the museum is built: various futuristic machines, reminiscent of power stations equipped with powerful generators from which thick bundles of cabling emerge, project over the visitor. The handcrafted workmanship and rustic features of these structures evoke ancient objects from a long tradition of popular art, while also calling to mind the Russian modernistand utopian architectures of the 20th century. Large Hadron Collider marks a reorientation in Polissky’s approach while remaining a collective adventure firmly linked to Nikola-Lenivets, during which the artist and his team collected the wood and produced all the individual parts of the structure before reassembling it at the museum.