The city’s biggest creative cluster to date, Tkachi, had its official opening at the weekend.
Published: December 19, 2012 (Issue # 1740)
Tkachi’s creators intend the space to become a center of creative production and innovation in the city.
This weekend saw the bustling official opening of Tkachi Smart Space, a colorful and multifarious event that celebrated one of the latest additions to St. Petersburg’s growing creative cluster scene.
Like the similarly minded Loft Project Etagi and the recently opened Skorohod performance arts space, the location chosen for Tkachi Smart was that of an old factory, in this case an expansive five-story textile factory built in the mid-19th century.
The factory was part of the old industrial zone along the Obvodny Canal, which is quickly becoming the city’s new art district as creative types flocking to the area open more and more art galleries and studios in the neighboring buildings.
The $15 million invested in the renovation of the building by real estate group Ovental, which leases the space, puts Tkachi in a different ball park to the squatters next door or art enthusiasts in the city’s other clusters.
The scope of the project is not limited to art, and is as huge as the sums invested and the size of the building itself, whose neat red brick façade now conceals more than 50 businesses, making it reminiscent of a modern shopping mall, but with multinational name brands replaced by innovative local start-up companies. Despite having been open to visitors for more than a year, the project has only now received its official start, with most of the space already occupied.
According to the brains behind the project, the space is intended to become a center of creative production and innovation in the city.
Saturday’s events included master classes for children on the 5th floor.
“The aim was to turn an abandoned industrial complex into a creative space uniting in its walls teams whose activity is maximally correlated to creative processes, built on the talent of its members, innovation, and the uniqueness of services offered,” said Ksenia Yurkova, development director of the Tkachi exhibition space on the fifth floor.
Saturday’s event attracted more than 3,000 guests for dozens of lectures and master classes throughout the space, divided thematically into architecture, ecology and urbanism; fashion and retail; and design marketing, media and creativity: The types of work done here by businesses on a daily basis.
Other events included a comprehensive job fair, film screenings and a “smart kids” program for the day’s numerous young guests in a space on the fifth floor that will continue to hold creative events for children and their parents alike.
The day’s events were as diverse as the building’s residents, with the first floor representing a collection of showrooms and boutiques offering guitars and DJ equipment, Electra bicycles, Apple products, creative travel packages, rare books and modern furniture, as well as video installation services from the Fabrika video events company.
“Everyone who is represented here is part of a certain social stratum: These are young, advanced people who are interested in good art and music and literature, and who create interesting products,” said Yelena Filimonova, an organizer for the center.
Modern offices are rented out on floors 2-4, and include companies such as architectural firms, magazine offices, art and photography studios and music and dance schools, one of which presented the evocative Brazilian dance-martial art mix Capoeira.
Jazz band the Hidden Orchestra performed at Tkachi’s official opening.
“We are beginning to collaborate, with tenants from the second, third and fourth floors who do office work doing collective projects with the guys from the first floor,” said Filimonova. “It’s like one big family.”
The artistic part of the center is largely restricted to the fifth-floor space, though its enormity poses little in terms of restrictions to artistic freedom. The space is as large as a warehouse, and includes the small intellectual bookstore-café Borjes, with a collection of otherwise hard to find English-language books, while the remaining space will be dedicated to exhibitions, performances (such as last month’s avant-garde theater performance “100 Wonderful Dead Men”) and concerts. At the opening, the space housed a number of hanging basket swings made from dried black lava, a ping pong table, and a video projection that took short clips of visitors, who were encouraged to strike creative poses and dance moves; a toy enthusiastically monopolized by the visiting children.
“The distinguishing element of this space is that it is huge, so we can only bring large, successful projects because small, chamber-like projects will be out of place,” said Yurkova.
“Planned events include an exhibition from the Venice Biennale, an interactive science exhibition from the Max Planck Institute in collaboration with Siemens, a photography exhibition from the Netherlands Photo Museum in the fall, and an exhibition of Japanese contemporary art in 2014,” she added.
The venue’s first concert was also the closing gig of the day, played by Edinburgh electronic jazz collective the Hidden Orchestra.
“It’s a great venue. In London there’s a place called The Village Underground that is kind of similar,” trumpet player Philip Cardwell told The St. Petersburg Times.
“It was a wonderful crowd, I kept looking further and further back and there were still more people, and they all stayed” he said.
“I think more people should visit Russia because a lot of the time people have stereotypes that aren’t true. They should come and try it for themselves,” he added.