School: Story of a Building
08.09 - 20.11.2016
School: Story of a Building
A county school building that has been an NCCA home for the past five years is an early 20th century architectural monument. A hundred years ago Ekaterinburg City Duma commissioned architect Yankovsky to design a dozen county schools. They had to be built not in the bedroom communities, as is common today, but on every city square. Yankovsky brilliantly rose to this challenge. Unfortunately, a century later only one of his school buildings has survived intact, fully preserving not only the exterior, but the interior as well. It is a county school on Khlebnaya ploshchad (The Bread Square).
Prior to 1919, when the Hospital Street was renamed into Dobrolubov Street, one of the first city taverns Otryasi-noga (Shake off Your Leg) (since 1730s) was located close to house # 19. The name originated from the fact that very often barflies didn’t make it to the Splavny Bridge, because they were in a hurry to get beer or something else, and so they crossed the river that was shallow at that place. In 1924, the first Sverdlovsk City Association of Students by Correspondence was established on the premises of the school named after Nikolay Nekrasov. The first school newspapers such as “Ogonki”, “Shkolnaya Pravda” and “Nekrasovets” were published in our building. The same year school students rented Lunacharsky Theater (today Opera and Ballet Theater) and staged Gogol’s “The Government Inspector”. All proceeds from ticket sales were donated to the orphans. In 1980s, the school catered to the children of circus performers. Their history teacher remembered an amusing episode: a boy once came to take an exam and was very insistent on being the first one to be tested, because he was worried about his friend Misha, who was not to be left alone for a long time. The teacher got curious and decided to see who this Misha was, so he walked out of school and saw that an anxious student was awaited by a real circus bear!
In the 1990s, a conscientious teacher formed a class of Romani children. He walked around Romani settlements urging everyone to study. Romani girls were prohibited to get education, so there were only boys listed in the class – a total of 16. The leader of Romani people was Misha Ogly, a very colorful character boasting a mouth full of golden teeth, who wore a mink hat all year round, be it winter or summer, and a red silk scarf. Of all the writers included in a literature syllabus, Romani students much preferred Gogol—especially a scene with Nozdrev from “Dead Souls”.
The exhibition features artefacts from the historical past of the building – objects dating back to the early 20th century that were found in the ground basement of NCCA, and objects inherited from the building’s previous owners: county school, school named after N. Nekrasov, and night school. Also included in the exhibition are photos and documents from the State archive of Sverdlovsk region.
A separate exhibition room is dedicated to the NCCA’S work that in 2011 transformed this building into a fully-featured exhibition venue. Part of the exposition consists of art works created at NCCA workshops by contemporary artists.
A promenade-performance was staged specially for this project.
The exhibition is a not-for-profit project funded by Mikhail Prokhorov Foundation, with the financial support from the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation. Co-organizer of the project is Autonomous NPO “Center for the Support of Development of Contemporary Art “ZA ART”.