The man, called an oligarch for a quarter of a century, wears a gray t-shirt with snakes and jeans, with the contours of a fist-sized gull on his chest as he attends the first of his film festival founded in St. Petersburg.
The seagull is a newly introduced logo of a 290-year-old island with many canals: Novaya Gollandija, New Holland, she's called Peter the Great, the Navy built on her a shipyard and a Holzkontor Since 2004 Although St. Isaac's Cathedral is only a quarter of an hour's walk away, it is very close to the historic Old Town. Roman Abramovich, the man carrying the seagull on his t-shirt, has built on it a kind of public cultural park open all year since 2016: with a lawn between herb garden , ball lane, kiosk, sculptures and processing facilities, an outdoor stage for concerts, theatrical performances or film screenings. In winter, the lawn is rolled and the tanning area is transformed into a huge area for ice skating. The cultural foundation of the former partner of Abramovich, Darya Zhukova, takes care of everything related to art on the island.
A hundred spectators, guests and spectators watch the film on comfortable metal chairs, as they are known to the Tuileries in Paris. Some spectators are lying at the edge of the grass. But hardly anyone turns to Abramovich when he appears. Of course, the film is good, but so often the oligarch, now an Israeli citizen, can not see in St. Petersburg. Please do not approach or photograph your boss, has already asked the marketing staff. He puts himself with his new friend to the brim without making big stories. His bodyguards remain in the background.
Roman Abramovich also wears gull t-shirts for other occasions elsewhere. At the Sochi Film Festival, he was photographed with. We can assume it with certainty, he is proud of his island. For a few minutes, he stands on the freshly mown lawn next to the rows of chairs to watch scenes on the screen. The film was shot by a Russian who fled to the United States. It's a comedy about Russians exiled to Milwaukee. This is called "Give Me Liberty", and of course, it is not a coincidence that a film festival opens with a movie that bears the title. It seems that freedom is a leitmotiv for the island.
The inhabitants of the city protested when in 2010, Abramovich won the tender for the triangular-shaped island of 7.8 acres located in the middle of an area relatively affordable residential. Fear of gentrification. The buildings of the island had fallen into ruins, the place between the ruins being a famous picnic spot since the navy had returned the island to the city. Until 2004, it was a restricted military zone.
The investment company Abramovichs, Millhouse LLC, has invested $ 400 million in the renovation and launched an architectural competition. The buildings and historic squares have been faithfully restored and modernized by a cabinet of Western architects, new wooden buildings such as kiosks and well-integrated scenes, modern toilets concealed under a small earthen access. The German gaming equipment company Richter has built a children's playground around the hull of a ship. In the former Kommandantur, a teen art school with editing studios, the Darja Schukowas Foundation awards scholarships. Last year, the whole received a prize for European architecture.
With cultural events and the public space between shops and offices, bookings seem to have yielded. Today, Georgian or Israeli restaurants are complete and all clothing and design shops on the first floor are occupied – it was once a 250 cell prison. More than 300 events will have taken place on the island between May and the end of September. You can also have a picnic.
Public parks are rare in Russian cities. The island is reminiscent of New York, but it's hard to find a way to cultivate green spaces in Western cultural parks. New Holland is still under construction. In the high wood storage tower of the church, formerly famous for the fact that it was possible to store there vertically tree trunks, he quickly found the proper chest in shipbuilding, created offices. It is said that the Museum of Contemporary Art Moscow Garage will also receive an archive and an outbuilding illustrating contemporary Russian art.
The island is not the only project of the now separated couple, Abramovich / Zhukov. Together they founded the largest museum of private art in Moscow in 2008: Garage is named after the first site, but seven years ago, Rem Koolhaas has endowed an old industrial building with a new hull in Gorky Park. The famous Gorky Park has long since defined what is a public space in the Soviet Union: "Happy Man Factory". The cultural park was supposed to educate the workers to the patriots and served in the morning for physical training between the flower beds.
Many Russian cities have a Gorky Park where the Stalin riots were organized, picnics and patina. It was only in the Khrushchev era that people did not recover collectively anymore. Homeless guest workers camped in Gorky Park in Moscow in the 1990s, and at night they were considered dangerous. It was renovated for the 90th anniversary of its founding last year and sports are now taking place on modern volleyball courts, yoga or skating. Wi-Fi is free. According to the model, many cultural parks in Russia are being restructured. It seems that the modern cultural park is more likely to educate people to depoliticize themselves.
In Gorky Park, the Schukowas Culture Foundation awards biannual scholarships to 18 artist studios, where concerts and lectures are held at the museum. There is a private publishing house that translates into Russian some of the most common contemporary art works. The museum sometimes features dissident works such as Artyom Loskutov or
Riot pussy, Until December there is a collage, the first eleven covers of the
Pravda after the performances of Chernobyl – only twelve days after the nuclear accident, reported the Soviet daily. The museum is considered largely sovereign and independent. However, the freedom in the Gorky Park has its limits: the Speaker & # 39; s Corner, installed briefly, was again dissolved. The New York-based Russian art historian, Mikhail Jampolsky, talks about the modern Russian cultural park as an outlet in which middle-class members should also be able to feel the culture of the city. 39; opposition.
Gorky Park is accepted. Even at a time when the city is protesting against the rejection of opposition candidates in local elections in early September, we see relaxed faces. In the park, two young men are visible, one of them tenderly put his arm around the shoulder of the other – a rare sight. A museum curator says that in the streets of Moscow, there is a gay fair play, which is likely to be harassed by the police. The park has a more liberal climate than the streets that surround it.
In St. Petersburg, the police are not responsible for the park. A private security service ensures that visitors do not bring beer, smoke only in the designated areas and leave the cultural park at 11 pm. Security forces are informed and trained. An employee told Roman, "Of course, Roman knows it." May be. People should also largely ignore why Abramovich lets them move freely on the island and if he does so in harmony with Vladimir Putin. Cultural parks were full this summer.
Tourists can travel more easily to St. Petersburg from 1 October. A free e-Visa entitles you to eight days
Stay. It must be requested four days before arrival. The New Holland Island program is available at www.newhollandsp.ru/en
The research trip for this position has been partially funded by tour operators, hotels, airlines and / or tourism agencies.