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Talking foxes, factories and plants: what you need to know about the “First Person” photo exhibition

Do you know how your neighbours live and what they think about? No, not those behind the wall, but on the street and in nature. Birches and birds, houses and factories, foxes and toads. How do they live together in the city and is harmony between people, the environment and industrial production possible? At the large exhibition of environmental photographs by SIBUR and the Moscow Design Museum “From the First Person”, all the main characters of the exhibitions – companies, people, representatives of flora and fauna – have answers and their own photo story.

Text: Katerina Bychkova

Design: Alexandra Babkina

Photo: SIBUR Press Service, Moscow Design Museum

We tell you how a project on industrial and natural beauty inspires residents of Nizhnekamsk, Kazan and Tobolsk and what industrial facilities, animals and birds want to remind city dwellers of.

Who creates new worlds and how?

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In everyday life, we do not notice the beauty that surrounds us. The picturesque architecture of houses, the green fences and the small picturesque frescoes on the ceiling of subway stations. People with a creative eye are able to capture the moment and open their eyes to what seems out of reach or impossible. The photographer asks questions to the public and answers them through photographs.

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In the photo project “First Person”, Russian photographers observed life around and inside three SIBUR plants in Kazan, Nizhnekamsk and Tobolsk to show (and prove) how people, the environment and industrial production can harmoniously coexist. Two neighbouring worlds – the industrial and the miraculous – become part of the modern urban landscape and inspire its inhabitants.

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The research on the theme of nature and the city was made possible by the Moscow Design Museum with the support of SIBUR within the framework of the “Formula for Good Deeds” social investment programme.

“Modern industries are becoming an integral part of urban ecosystems. We understand how important it is for the interaction between nature, city and production to be harmonious, so we introduce the latest technologies, strictly comply with environmental requirements and pursue an open policy. The photo stories of the heroes of the exhibition are a living proof of the good neighbourliness between high-tech production and the environment,” said Alexey Zarichny, Environmental Director of SIBUR.

Speak, we are listening

In a fascinating and understandable format, citizens will learn about the life of the main characters of the exhibitions: the hereditary Kazan fox, cooling towers and factory torches, the marsh sandpiper, factory employees and others. The organizers of the environmental project provided the animals with the magic of their voices so that everyone could see (and hear) the stories first-hand. The exhibition turned out to be not only ecological, but also multimedia: the photographs were accompanied by text and an audio guide for a complete immersion in an environment where industrial and natural objects are friendly.

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The great stilt, also known as the marsh sandpiper, recalled its exclusivity (it is listed in the Red Book!) and said that it can be found from April to August on the Swan Lake in Kazan. Just don’t try to meet it – it is still wary of people and worries about babies in the nest.

Kazan fox

Hover over photo to enlarge.

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The royal smeltfish from Nizhnekamsk thanked the company for the opportunity to reach adulthood. The Red Book beauty and 199,999 of her young friends have found a new home in the waters of the hospitable Kama. By 2026, the company plans to release one million smelt fry into the river.

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And in Tobolsk in 2019, on an ecological trail, scientists discovered a new species of mushroom – the Krepidot, of course, called Tobolsky. They even had to undergo a DNA test to prove its unique breed. The birth of a new species is further proof of how the petrochemical industry coexists environmentally with the environment, monitors its life and contributes to its careful conservation.

Nizhnekamsk sterling

Crepidota mushroom

Hover over photo to enlarge.

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The main inhabitants of industrial production also shared a wide story about themselves. A torch from a closed factory in Kazan spoke about the burning heart, and his colleagues from BOS (biological treatment plants) in Nizhnekamsk spoke about their mission.

Factory Torch

Biotreatment facilities

Hover over photo to enlarge.

Among the human heroes of the environmental photo project were workers from the Kazanorgsintez, Nizhnekamskneftekhim, ZapSibneftekhim factories, craftsmen from the Qullar design studio, which makes furniture from recycled plastic, and an actor from the Kazan Youth Theatre in Bulak as the main character of a children’s environmental game. One of the photographs shows showman Alexander Pushnoy. He was invited to a public tour of the Kazanorgsintez plant, where they talked about the company’s work and helped dispel myths about petrochemicals.

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Alexander Pushnoy

Factory employee, worked in the company for 49 years.

Hover over photo to enlarge.

Where can I get acquainted with the photo project?

Exhibition stands have appeared on the pedestrian streets and parks of Kazan, Tobolsk and Nizhnekamsk. The modern history of these cities is closely connected with the petrochemical industry, so it was possible to create three different unique exhibitions. Some will surely smile at the funny comments of animals while walking through the city park, others will stop and contemplate the nature of their region, and the most curious will want to learn all about eco-initiatives and technologies that preserve flora and fauna and turn on the audio guide.

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In each work in the First Person exhibition, the photographers explore the juxtaposition of civilization, industry and nature and, through the prism of the lens, seek a balance between the need to move forward and carefully preserve the world around them.

Objective image

The photographers observed nature and its inhabitants from the first person, met with the company’s employees and completed the important task of bridging the gap between humans, the latest technologies and wild nature. The exhibition was attended by 14 authors, including eminent photographers who shot for National Geographic, winners of the Golden Pen contest, local nature photographers, bird watchers (in other words, amateur ornithologists – Ed.) and participants in the Russian Museum’s photography biennale.

Kazan, dream grass

Photographer: Radik Kutushev

Nizhnekamsk, Grey Owl

Photographer: “Not a photographer”

Tobolsk, Vorokusha

Photographer: Dmitri Porshnev

Nizhnekamsk, inhabitants of the Nizhnyaya Kama National Park

Photographer: “Nefotograf”

Kazan, resident of the SIBUR ecological trail

Photographer: Radik Kutushev

Roman Sablin, the first eco-trainer in Russia and the CIS, noted the non-standard approach to ecological education at the Moscow Design Museum. “The contrast between the industrial and the natural through the prism of environmental friendliness includes ecological thinking and invites you to change your attitude to what is happening around you. After all, reducing the burden on the environment depends on each of us, starting with basic ecological habits and continuing with eco-technologies in the workplace,” explained the founder of the Green Driver company.

mission possible

The photo exhibition symbolically opened on June 5 in Kazan and Nizhnekamsk on the occasion of the Day of the Ecologist and World Environment Day. And in Tobolsk on May 25, the Day of the Petrochemist, when the 50th anniversary of the local petrochemical industry was celebrated. The exhibition is a reminder of the importance of careful preservation of the environment and the search for the inextricable connection between nature and industry, civilization, flora and fauna.

“City, nature, factories, ecology, respect for the planet… We wanted to talk about these important concepts in a vivid, figurative language. That’s why we gave voice to the characters in the photographs and called the exhibition “From the First Person,” says Alexandra Sankova, curator of the exhibition, director of the Moscow Design Museum, design historian and active promoter of eco-design and recycling.

We invite you to be inspired by the amazing nature of Russian regions, wild animals (with a very human nature) and immerse yourself in the history of industrial enterprises at the photo exhibition “From the First Person”. And also remind yourself, your relatives and friends of the importance of preserving miraculous beauty and caring for its inhabitants.

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