Tobolsk hosted An Iconic Place, a festival of contemporary, street, and folklore art

3 august 2021

An Iconic Place, a festival of contemporary, street, and folklore art, was hosted by Tobolsk for the first time. The festival seeks to help unlock people’s creative potential hoping to inspire Tobolsk’s residents to effect positive change in their city through art. The festival was put together by a company called RASKRASIM VSYO (Russian for LET’S PAINT IT ALL) as part of SIBUR's social investment program "The Formula for Good Deeds" and a street art project called "The Art Formula".

Four of Tobolsk’s sites became venues for various events organized for the city’s residents, including creative workshops led by professional artists, lectures, and artistic performances.

Each site was dedicated to a unique theme: folklore, graffiti, fashion, music and color, featuring artists and lecturers who draw their inspiration in these respective fields of art.

Guided by their experienced artist mentors, workshops’ participants got a chance to make drawings on T-shirts, bandanas, shopping bags, and even on skateboards! With proper zoning and scheduling measures in place, the festival that attracted over 300 participants was held in strict compliance with all applicable restrictions.

The festival brought together artists from multiple Russian cities: Vitya Pushkarev (Moscow), Artyom Ikona and Sasha Afix (St. Petersburg), Anton Aist (Yekaterinburg), Ilya Vorontsov (Khabarovsk), Misha Mack (West Siberia).

The Music and Color site housed inside the "My Territory" multicenter, hosted three lectures/performances presented by music scholar Anna Vilenskaya, a popular Youtuber together with a local Tobolsk artist Ekaterina Karasyova focusing on "Russianness" in music and painting. The lectures culminated in building a visual art object reflecting on the Russian folklore in its modern re-interpretation.

The Yermak Garden amphitheater hosted a three-act dance performance by Artem Ikona amalgamating Russian folk games and dances, paintings on clothing and a presentation of street art fashion on a catwalk.

The new Iconic Place festival is an opportunity to spend one’s leisure time in a creative way together with family and friends. Thanks to events like these, Tobolsk residents can look at their hometown from a different prospective, see it as a dynamic space that can be altered, improved, and developed, Tobolsk Mayor Maxim Afanasyev, noted.

We have been working together with the "RASRKASIM VSYO" team for many years. It was thanks to their efforts that the walls of residential buildings in the center of Tobolsk now feature works of vibrant street art that has spruced up our urban space. This year, we wanted to get Tobolsk residents more involved in the city life, and so we came up with the idea of holding a large-scale festival of contemporary art where its participants, guided by professional artists, can look at Tobolsk in a new way: as one single space waiting to be transformed. In contemporary art and culture there is now a trend toward localization, that is, creation of iconic creative products through involvement of local communities with their identities and traditions. Tobolsk, with its rich history and striking spiritual and cultural codes, is a perfect fit for this trend. The Iconic Place festival is one clear testament to that, Elena Belskaya, Head of ZapSibNeftekhim's Government Relations Department, explained.

At this juncture, at a time of closed international borders, people have started to travel more, and not only within their own country, but also by delving deep into their inner selves, in search of their own identity. Thus, one of the growing trends in contemporary Russian art is folklore and its re-imagining. People have started to realize again how much power and inspiration one can draw from their own history and culture. In order to support this wave of creativity, we invited to Tobolsk the brightest and most original artists of our vast country, RASKRASIM VSYO’s Svetlana Druzhinina, the festival’s director, said.

Today, I held two workshops at the Folklore site (in Bazarnaya Square) and at the Graffiti site (at the "Maximum" skate park). Together with the Tobolsk youths we decorated bandanas and skateboards by painting them in the "folk Renaissance" style. I am overwhelmed with the festival’s energy: together we made each other’s acquaintance, socialized, learned things, shared impressions and received a powerful boost of inspiration! I am thankful to the organizers for the opportunity to share my skills and experience with the younger generation of future artists, Misha Mack, the artist in charge of the Folk and Graffiti sites.

At the festival, I worked together with Sasha Afix at the "Maximum" skate park where I conducted a workshop on creating graffiti fonts. My students did really well, meaning that my job as a teacher is done. Having visited Tobolsk, I feel respect for the people who live there: you are all very active and compassionate people. I hope that the "Iconic Place" festival will become an annual event, and next year I will be able to present something new, Anton Stork, a Graffiti site artist, commented.

I want to note that Tobolsk, and Tyumen Oblast as a whole, have a great environment: you want to be creative here, make things happen, and express your inner potential to the max. And it seems to me that we have succeeded in doing just that. I would like to express my gratitude to the organizers and the audience, those who attended my workshop and my art performance. It was magical, Artem Ikona, an artist at the Fashion site, shared his impressions.

I’d like to thank SIBUR and RASKRASIM VSYO for bringing the Iconic Place Festival to our city. It was immaculately organized and its program was fantastic. At the "My Territory" multicenter, working together with music scholar Anna Vilenskaya, we delivered three audio-visual lectures on the subject of Russian folklore. Anna gave a very interesting talk about "Russianness" in music, and in the meantime I painted everything that was coming to my mind on a large canvas. This was my first experience of this kind, Ekaterina Karaseva, a Tobolsk artist and winner of the 2019 Art Formula project's sketch competition for buildings’ facades, noted.

The "Art Formula", a street art project, will continue to accept competitive entries of sketches for the facades of Tobolsk’s buildings until August 15. The featured theme of this year's contest is "Legends and Fairytales of Siberia".