Anastasia Flegontova and Anna Pozdnyak, graduate students of the Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg, have started a fundraiser to create a documentary about the phenomenon of ZhEK ('housing maintenance office') art — these are figures of animals, birds or characters made of tire covers that Russian cities' residents make in courtyards. In the movie, the documentarians want to explore ZhEK art as a phenomenon of post-Soviet yard aesthetics and show what role tire art plays in creating a comfortable urban environment. Raised funds will be used to pay for the work of videographers. The students have started the fundraiser on the Sila Slova (‘the power of words’) Platform.
According to Anna Pozdnyak and Anastasia Flegontova, the movie about ZhEK art is an attempt to understand why sometimes strange compositions made of tire covers have become an integral part of post-Soviet yard aesthetics.
"As a child, I did not understand why flowers must have necessarily grown inside a tire cover and why there were so many plastic bottles around. People managed to make palm trees, pigs, lilies-of-the-valley, birdhouses and much more out of them. Basins and canisters were used, and stumps had to have eyes. So, I did not accept ZhEK art and shuddered when my grandmother was begging my grandfather to come to his senses and make a swan out of a tire by all the countryside canons," said Anastasia Flegontova, one of the project’s authors.
Art expert and urban environment researcher Anton Polsky believes that three reasons influence the motivation of ZhEK art authors: villagers moving to cities, the Soviet habit of reusing objects and problems with beautification.
In addition, the topic of decorating yards with tire covers is relevant now. In 2021, the authorities adopted a law that prohibits involving used tires in yard improvement. According to legislators, tires are toxic, and they need to be dealt with. On the other hand, the thing is reused, which corresponds to the trend for conscious consumption.
According to the project’s authors, ZhEK art is worth making a movie about it. The documentary format will reveal the drama hidden behind the "citizen street art".
The young women should raise 84.5 thousand rubles to implement the project. Follow the link to support the project and help with film editing.
In 2020, the 7x7 Online Newspaper and the Alliance of Independent Regional Publishers (AIRP) launched the Sila Slova Crowdfunding Platform for media editorial boards, initiative journalists, bloggers, and civic organizations. The project’s goal is to help media and journalists speak on complex topics and unite to prepare important materials.
Earlier, the journalists of the VK-Media Publishing Group (the Globus, Vecherniy Krasnoturyinsk, Vecherniy Karpinsk, and ProSeverouralsk.ru media) started a fundraiser to make specials about people who live near former or existing colonies in the north of the Urals. They have also started the fundraiser on the Sila Slova Platform.
The Sol’ i Sakhar (‘salt and sugar’) Project's documentarians have started a fundraiser on the Sila Slova Platform to make a film about sustainable consumption in Russia, What is Left When I am Gone. Raised funds will be used to pay for the production and editing team’s work, transport, and promotion of the finished documentary.