A year ago, the participants of the 2nd round of the unique international creative competition FusioNNow launched by Norilsk Nickel company spent three busy days on the Kola Peninsula.
The painters, travellers, famous personalities from 5 countries of the world - Japan, Australia, Italy, Denmark, Russia - visited the Kola Peninsula and told how the industry contributes to the development of the region.
On the first day, the participants of the Polar Night Tour arrived at the Rayakoski village and visited the Ecological School atthe unique Pasvik Reserve. The reserve is located in the extreme northwest of Russia, at the junction of three borders - Russia, Finland and Norway. Only the Reserve employees have access to the Pasvik Reserve, and visitors need a special permit to enter it. The bird and animal observation and environmental monitoring are carried out within the Reserve every day. Together with the reserve staff, the participants in the FusioNNow project walked through the snow-covered forest in search of animal tracks, they measured the height of the snow - at that time, a 48-cm layer of snow had already fallen in the taiga.
Monga Mukasa (Congo):
We had a wonderful day in Pasvik. I learned that much is being done in the Far North to preserve nature, and I saw with my own eyes how the reserve is maintained. It's great. I believe that people around the world should unite and make efforts to protect animals and plants. The local scientists pay great attention to this issue. This is important, including for future generations. I've heard so many cool ideas regarding the environment protection. It was a day full of laughter and love for all living things. I
went skiing for the first time in mylife, which became a real challengefor me … As a person living in theSouthern Hemisphere, I discovered a lot of new things. The Far North of Russia has a very severeclimate, it is frosty there. I also took a sauna (a steam room) for the first time in my life. It's just breath-taking! I made three runs. We were a great group of friends, we had heart-to-heart talks. I'm looking forward to tomorrow. This is a unique place.
Lea Brugnoli (Italy):
I wish this magic would last longer! Because this is such a sense of peace, unity with nature, silence… In the morning, we went to the reserve under the cover of darkness. When we arrived, it was already daylight and we saw amazing landscapes around us ... It is clear how dedicated the Pasvik employees are. They take care of the reserve and develop the international co-operation. They learn from other nature reserves, which is great. And we also ... sledged and immerged in cold water - into the ice-hole. This is an experience I never dreamed of. Thanks to Pasvik!
In addition, the FusioNNow team took part in the ‘Letters to Animals’ project and
wrote creative and touching messages in support of wildlife.
The next day, the travellers set off to the main goal of their trip - to the town of Nickel, where the ‘Second School’, a unique creative space, is located, it is a project created by some enthusiasts with the support of the grant programme of the ‘Norilsk Nickel’ Mining and Metallurgical Company. The ‘Second School’ is a public space where the Nickel peoplecan spend their leisure time together, communicate and implement their social and cultural initiatives.
At the ‘Second School’, Yukio Kondo, a Japanese painter,held a master class for the Nickel people on a unique painting technique with a 1300-year history - nihonga -where authentic materials and methods are used that are one-of-the-kind. As a result of the master class, the painters and local people jointly created a large painting depicting the sky at the polar night. Yukio Kondo plans to take the resulting painting to Japan to display it at the exhibitions and telleveryone about his trip to the northernmost point of the earth and the people he met there.
Yukio Kondo (Japan): Nickel turned out to be a cold town, but with a very hot heart. It seemed to me that all the people in the town and the Norilsk Nickel company, the main company of the town, live and coexist in one ‘complex relationship’ called the Responsibility. And the fact that one of the projects for the future development of this town is called the ‘Second School’ by the representative of Norilsk Nickel - is not it the Responsibility for the present and future of this town? The ‘Second School’ art-residence made the most positive impression. This is a vivid example for us, theJapanese, of the optimistic thinking and firm self-confidence to change only for the better.
Monga Mukasa, a musician, singer and composer, a resident of Australia and a native of Congo, in his master class taught the Nickel’s children and teenagers not only an Australian, but also an African (Congolese) music. In the end of hismaster class, all those present composed and played together a short piece of music about the friendship between the countries.
Lea Brugnoli is an Italian media architect specializing in the interactive and spatial projects. As part of the workshop, Lea introduced the participants to the basics of creating video installations and demonstrated various ways to use mapping. The participants divided into groups and created their own concepts for mapping at the the ‘Voskhod’ (Sunrise) culture house in Nickel.
Lea Brugnoli (Italy):
At the meeting in Nickel, we got to know what kind of support Nickel would provide to their workers after the closure of the production workshop. They really plan ahead and create new opportunities. Tourism can be an effective way to create new jobs, and during the tour, we could see that the region has everything to attract tourists, both in summer and in winter. The cultural programme of the Centre is also an excellent incentive for a trip to Nickel. It's amazing how well equipped it is, how comfortable the rooms are. There are flexible spaces here allowing you to engage in a variety of activities. But the people living in the town are even more amazing withtheir creativity, passion and openness to new things.
Galya Morrell and Ole Jorgen Hammeken are a creative union of a painter and a polar explorer living between Greenland and Siberia, and they met with young people of Nickel in a rare genre of visual performance on drifting ice - ‘My polar night’. The creative meeting was held in a fusion format: there was an impromptu theater, performance, interview, photo session, and a song video. The meeting ended with the creation of a group video postcard - the young people of Nickel holding portraits of the children living in the Arctic, confessed their love to the coldest and at the same time hottest place on our planet.
Galya Morrel (Greenland/Siberia): ‘The Second School’ today is an ideal ‘incubator’in which the embryos can grow, which today - by common efforts - are laid in a beneficial, fertile soil - in the soil of the town of Nickel. With this incubator, completely different things can be born. Both artistically and socially. Because all these things talk to each other. When good artists appear in the town, they makesocial projects, and the life of all citizens changes.
Galya Morrel plans to return to Nickel to complete the work begun in the master class on integrating Nickel’s children into the ‘Arctic Without Borders’project.
The Norilsk Nickel Company has decided to shut down the smelter in Nickel. The enterprise has been operating for over 70 years and has been a source of environmental pollution in the Murmansk Territory. The closure of the smelter is expected to have a positive effect on the ecology, the environment and the health of local residents, as the plant is now located too close to the residential areas.
Production is scheduled to shut down by 2021. This will be the starting point for Nickel’s transformation, the company says.
The company intends to support its former employees by providing them with a choice: retirement, employment in other divisions of Norilsk Nickel, or the possibility of retraining.
The participants in the ’Polar Night Tour’ also spoke about this.
Lea Brugnoli (Italy):
…In Nickel, we learned what support will be provided by Norilsk Nickel to its workers after the closure of the production workshop. They really plan ahead and create new opportunities. Tourism can be an effective way to create new jobs, and during the tour, we could see that the region has everything to attract tourists, both in summer and in winter.
Ole Jorgen Hammeken:
It seems to me that Nickel is still quite a successful town. And the active development of the entrepreneurship will only contribute to its further success.
We learned about very interesting projects of Norilsk Nickel - it is an interesting task to turn Nickel into the town of tomorrow, to make it a tourist centre, an innovative town. The town is beautiful and located in an interesting place. There is a colossal space for a variety of perspectives. The town has a very good potential - its young people open to everything in the world - who do not think in stereotypes. With such a human potential, miracles can be done.