by Ariadna Zierold
Born in 1957 in Moscow, artist Nikolay Polissky creates impressive, handcrafted structures in the middle of Russia’s vast landscapes. Mostly carried out in the town of Nikola Lenivets — located 200 km from the Russian capital — his works are built entirely by the area’s residents, using local materials, such as branches, trunks and wooden tables. Traditional construction techniques are used as a starting point for the projects.
His work is inspiring not only because of its imposing form, but also because he managed to re-activate a semi-abandoned village through art and architecture, involving residents in the creative process and transforming the region into a sort of open cultural center. Since 2003, his work has been part of Archstoyanie, the largest Land-Art festival in Russia.
The work of Polissky falls somewhere between large-scale sculptures, temporary installations and vernacular architecture. Anchored to a spectacular landscape, they act as lighthouses, inviting the community to occupy a vast territory that seemed impossible to completely inhabit.
Their archetypal forms refer to classical buildings, like the famous Mesopotamian Ziggurats, while also referencing local structures that flood the urban landscape of the country, such as broadcasting antennas and industrial chimneys. His work often provides a contrast; for example, a strong column of smoke pouring from a delicate tower of branches.
Images via the artist.