The Cultural Capital festival is held in Irkutsk


The first Cultural Capital arts festival organized by the Baikal XL festival center in Irkutsk and the Nevsky 24 art gallery in St. Petersburg with support from the administration of Irkutsk and EuroSibEnergo, the largest independent power company, took place in Irkutsk. The festival held on June 5-7 became a cultural bridge between two cities, Irkutsk and St. Petersburg, and made it possible to demonstrate achievements in various spheres of contemporary Russian culture: music, literature, visual arts and cinema.

The program of the Cultural Capital festival included an exhibition of paintings, drawings and photographs by artists from St. Petersburg Vladimir Shinkaryov, Viktor Tikhomirov and Andrey Usov (founders of the Mitki art group), evenings with guests from the northern capital and the premiere of Chapayev. Chapayev, a feature film written and directed by Viktor Tikhomirov.

Other projects presented to the people of Irkutsk included a photographic exhibition Lomoportatsiya. Novaya Magistral (Lomoportation. A New Route), a video art exhibition Evolyutsiya Kadra (Evolution of the Video Frame) and a screening of short films Korotkiy Metr (Shorts) featuring the best works presented in the Erarta Motion Pictures festival, an original project of the Erarta Museum and Galleries (St. Petersburg). In the 130th block, the Cardboard City (a project of Cardboardia, an independent international community of artists) was built. The citys improvised streets housed the Irkutsk monument to the babr (a Siberian tiger), the Moscow gates, the St. Petersburg Admiralty and a power plant generating creative energy, all situated in close proximity to each other.

On the last day of the festival, a parkland venue called Meetings on the Embankment was opened on the bank of the Angara River. It has been a few years since this movement started attracting followers in Russia, including Irkutsk, but it was in Irkutsk that the idea of bringing land art into the urban environment (in contrast to the traditional approach that involves setting architectural projects in a natural landscape) was first put into practice.

A concert of the worlds only horn orchestra from St. Petersburg in Kirov Square (following its concert in the Irkutsk Philharmonic Hall, which was a success) and a performance by rock groups Surganova i Orkestr and Torba-na-Kruche provided a finale to the first Cultural Capital festival and a gift to the citizens of Irkutsk to mark the City Day.


Svetlana Bekasova, curator of the photographic exhibition Lomoportatsiya. Novaya Magistral: Organizers of the festival set us the task of building a sort of a road between St. Petersburg and Irkutsk, establishing a link between the two cities through photographs. I immediately thought of lomography. To fulfill our task, we photographed mansions, embankments, museums, theaters in St. Petersburg. We then sent the films to Irkutsk, where an action group distributed them among photographers. And local photographers took photos of the people of Irkutsk using the same films, which had not been processed yet. Lomography is very unpredictable; it is based on curiosity, intuition and quickness! One of its main rules is that there are no rules! Out of ten films sent to Irkutsk, only fifteen photographs were included in the exhibition. But they look magical. You look at a picture and you just cant figure out how it has been made. This is what the magic of lomography is about.

Sergey Polyanichko, conductor of the Horn Orchestra of Russia: I had never been to Irkutsk before, and Ive been greatly impressed. This is a wonderful city with deep-rooted cultural traditions. Ive seen a wide variety of monuments; I have visited the Holy Cross Church. I really hope that Russian culture will not be confined exclusively to the capital cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg. It is important for various ensembles to visit Irkutsk and for ensembles from Irkutsk to visit the capitals. This exchange will help to maintain both high quality and traditions.

Svetlana Surganova, musician, composer, poet, soloist of the Surganova i Orkestr group: It was simply impossible for me to refuse to participate in the Cultural Capital festival. I wanted to support this great idea. Such a close artistic friendship between Irkutsk and Petersburg appeals to me. The festival is absolutely necessary. I will do everything to support it, and I will participate in it. This is a great idea. I was completely unaware of these cultural ties between Irkutsk and Petersburg This is very valuable and very important, especially in our time We should encourage people to turn to beauty. Perhaps one of the goals of cultural cooperation of this kind is precisely this: to make society more humane.

Viktor Tikhomirov, artist, author, film director: Nowadays, all aspects of culture are highly important. Now the front line is no longer situated somewhere in hot spots; it is culture that has become the front line. Culture will last for generations. It is an all-encompassing process, a link between human existence and spirituality and eternity. There always are striking personalities among artists. And there are administrations and wealthy individuals who can have a wide influence: they may support an initiative or hinder it. By acting together, these artists and influential people can work wonders.

Andrey Likhachev, Chairman of the Board of Directors of OJSC Irkutskenergo: I would like to highlight the fact that EuroSibEnergo Group, a company that essentially initiated this unique project, participated in the Cultural Capital festival as a partner. EuroSibEnergos business is closely linked with Siberia, with the Irkutsk Region. Moreover, our business development strategy is consistent with the key objective of the festival, as it involves creating a common cultural and business space across the country. The festival provided an opportunity for a comprehensive demonstration of the richness and variety of modern culture and made it possible to get to know each other and to understand each other better. Its large and colorful venues served as a perfect place for professional communication and exchange of knowledge and ideas for the people of Irkutsk and St. Petersburg. I hope that the Cultural Capital festival will continue to bring joy to the people of Irkutsk and to surprise them every year. I am genuinely grateful to the government of the city and the region, to all organizers and participants of the festival, who help to promote a good and worthwhile cause: integration in the field of the humanities in Eastern Siberia.

Press service of the Cultural Capital festival

June 09, 2014
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