In his new project “The Wasteland of Soils” Ilya Gaponov explores the edge of an industrial past and present of Kuzbass, talks about its heroes, minors, places and spaces.


Ilya Gaponov was born and grew up in Kemerovo. In his works he uses bitum and kuzbasslak, a liquid made from coal resin obtained during mining.


In “The Wasteland of Soils” the artist turns to the industrialization of Kuzbass in 1920-30s. Spoil tips, conical hills that are left over after mining coal, are inherent for mining places; thus they become a metaphor of the past. Olesya Turkina, curator of the exhibition, writes: “the spoil tips that seem beautiful from a distance, conceal danger within. Sprout up near the mines are like border markers warning that you are entering a particuparly remote territory with its own severe rules”.   


There’s no such place in the world as the wasteland of soils. It was fantasized by “Soviet belief in the country’s industrialization”. The principal goal was the electrification of the entire country thanks to the intensified pace of coal mining. In that time miners became national heroes and one of the main soviet cultural figures. The image of the miner “kept its halo all the way up until Perestroika, when it turned out that no one needed their heroic deeds. Thrown out on the surface like the processed spoils of ideology, they demonstrated their explosiveness”. That’s what the artist try to speak: about the glorious past and “post utopian” present.