When he hit 42, Nikolay Polissky decided to change his life. He had been a very successful artist up until then, but he wanted to take his talent a step further. He describes the experience as a second birth. He was trying to fight the common habit of giving up one’s dreams by age 40 and just succumbing to the flow. He moved to Nikola-Levitens, trying to escape the craziness of city life. When he arrived, he took a look at what he had available, and realized that he was lucky to live on a beautiful piece of land. Polissky decided that he needed to take advantage of what nature had provided.
When he first talked about his ideas for the place, the villagers of Zvizzhi and Nikola-Lenivets were suspicious. They had very little respect for him and didn’t trust him at all. His own family was less than supportive at first because they couldn’t understand what he was trying to create or why. They knew he was passionate about art, but wondered whether his ideas were becoming a little too bizarre for his own good. But little by little he won them over.
At first the materials he wanted to use were free and many of the villagers were happy to lend a helping hand.
The first project was to build over 200 snowmen. Neighbors were eager to participate and this attracted tourists and architects from all over the world. One family claims to have singlehandedly built at least 50 of the snowmen. Although the project melted quickly, it was a huge success.
Then there was the Tower of Babel built out of hay. Once again at first many were skeptical. They encouraged him to just stay with the memory of the snowmen and call it quits. Still Nikolay kept moving forward with his vision.
By the time it was finished, the tower was about 10 stories high. People could climb from one level to the other. Everybody who contributed had his or her name printed in the picture book that was made to document the project. This monument lasted for about a year.
Soon, art became the driving force of the community and many other projects followed. Nikolay’s dream is for the place to be known all around the world for its outstanding art exhibited in a high-quality festival. He wants the land to become a park filled with unusual and attractive pieces.
Now the town of Nikola-Lenivets, located about 200 kilometers to the southwest of Moscow, holds the largest land art festival in Russia— The Archstoyanie. This has become an event that hosts the works of more than ten artists and attracts thousands of visitors every year.
Nikolay Polissky became a land art pioneer. Watch his story now.