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Flaming Motors

© Nikita Shokhov

The series Flaming Motors is created at the oldest Russian automobile plant: the Gorky Automobile Plant in the city of Nizhny Novgorod. The photographs reflect its history and today's time. The GAZ plant was built with the assistance of the U.S. Ford Company in 1932.

In those times, the USSR the new industrial cities were supposed to become the driving force of the industrial as well as cultural development. Since new plants were often built by GULAG prisoners, they symbolized the start of the new life and belief in a better future. New Soviet plants were called "flaming motors" of the new industrial Soviet world. After the Soviet Union breakdown the GAZ plant was in depression but currently, it produces GAZ trucks as well cars and vans by Volkswagen, Skoda, and Mercedes-Benz.

The series shows industrial life through the prism of human-robots interaction. The workers as sculptures and machines as alive creatures. The photographs discover some disadvantages of the aesthetic and social environment of the workers. Initially, the equipment and buildings were created for functional reasons without consideration of industrial aesthetics. However, a new romantic charm appeared in the process of industrial rise. The kind, somehow rude and very tough beauty of industrial buildings, areas, and entire cities captures an eye today. We can look at places and people whose personality is perhaps too often stay behind the manufactured products. On some of the photographs, the artist himself shows up among groups of workers.

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