Dusya is a Vasiliyevsky Island local, whose job it is to promote a creative space located on the island – Sevkabel Port. The new public space, has given people access to the sea, modern art, great festivals and parties.
Dusya, tell us your story.
I lived in Moskovsky District until I was eight, then moved with my mother to Vasiliyevsky Island, into a flat near Smolenskoye Cemetery, which is where I still live. For quite a long time I also lived near Ladozhskaya Metro Station, but it has been eight years since I returned to the island.
Vasiliyevsky Island is a city within a city. This part of St. Petersburg is isolated, but in a good way, quite often vasiliyeostrovtsy [residents of the island] don’t leave it, as they have everything they need within the district. We don’t have enough green areas and parks here, however. That’s why Smolenskoye Cemetery is our central park and meeting point.
I like our wide prospects, there are not so many people on the streets and it’s really safe to cycle here. Every side of the island is different: there is the ceremonial and historic University Embankment, there is my favorite Lieutenant Smidt Embankment, where we cycle day and night with my friends. There is a zone with a bike lane on Makarova Embankment, with a view of the Gazprom skyscraper and Football Stadium. There are wild beaches near a new housing area on the man-made area of the Gulf of Finland. There is the Smolenka River, which partly goes through the cemetery and of course there is Sevkabel Port, which has opened up incredible opportunities.
What do you do in Sevkabel Port?
Although I graduated from the Faculty of Geography and Geoecology at St. Petersburg State University, I was always interested in social-cultural projects. I came into this sphere 10 years ago, when I started to work as an administrator in the Loft Project Etagi [an art-center and shopping hub]. There, each administrator was everything all at once: a photographer, curator, tour guide, PR-manager and so on. Later, I worked at New Holland Island [a park with cultural events], several PR-agencies, and for three and a half years at the Library of Arts and Music at Nevsky Prospect 20, as a press-secretary.
I first came to Sevkabel in May 2017. They didn’t have an inviting embankment and proper access to the Gulf of Finland. It was a big party, and, as I knew organizers, I was able to smoke behind the stage and experience this view of the water. Some time before that, I celebrated my birthday in a club in nearby factory, and we had a stunning view from the window. For more than 10 years I knew Alexei Onatsko, who is curating this project . He told me that the Sevkabel factory [formerly the Siemens & Halske electrical engineering company] planned to create a public space on the spot of their former industrial zone. Of course I dreamed about joining the project from the very beginning, but I started to work here as PR-director only in February 2018.
Sevkabel Port is growing and expanding. We now have 70 residents, who rent lofts and offices for their projects. They are music promoters, artists, architecture and art studios, a tattoo-salon, and even some people who are living here! Last year we opened up only for events; today we work every day from 10:30 to 23:00. Our investor is Sevkabel Factory, and the managing company is Miles & Yards, so it’s a 100% long-term story. It’s clear that nobody else will come in here, move us away, and try to sell this space for development. We didn’t spent money on advertising, as our events advertise us and people post many photos and videos on their social media.
Which places would you recommend for foreign tourists visiting St. Petersburg?
My first choice would be Sevkabel Port, because it is the best place from which to view the Baltic Sea in the city. This summer we will launch boat tours with two hop-on, hop-off routes. One will go around the island, while the second will connect us with a pier in the city center. For those who are interested in modern art, I would recommend the Manege Central Exhibition Hall. I really appreciate all the renovations that took place there recently. Smolenskoe Cemetery, although some people may find this odd. I love cemeteries myself and always explore them when I travel in Europe. Lieutenant Smidt Embankment, as it’s a bit in the shadow of other embankments. I love to cycle there and see all the ships and the industrial water zone. Pif-Paf Bar for those who would like to party and dance. Sometimes I perform there as a DJ with my female friends from the Girls on Probation project. There is a vintage shop nearby. Maybe it is not so much about Russian culture, but I like it a lot.
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