The northernmost Art Residence is in Nikel

Twice a year, the northern Russian village of Nikel turns into an art venue. Artists and specialists of other creative professions come from all over Russia to rethink the space of the Russian North. The unique location beyond the Arctic Circle gives the Nikel art residence the status of the northernmost art residence in Russia.

Nikel Polar Day, Nickel Polar Night

Since 2018, we have been developing art in the very north of Russia

The project aims at the creation an attractive multifaceted image of Nikel both for residents and guests and promotes rethinking of the space of the Russian North.

Art Residence "Polar Day" 2022

The new season of the summer art residence will take place in Nikel in August 2022.

Art Residence "Polar Night" 2022

The winter season of the 2022 art residence took place in Nikel in February.

Art Residence "Polar Day" 2021

The summer season of the art residence was held from August 1 to August 10, 2021 in the village of Nikel, Murmansk region.

Art Residence "Polar Night" 2021

The new season of the winter art residence was held in Nikel and Rajakoski from 15 to 28 February 2021.

History of the Art Residence

 The northernmost art residence was established in 2018.

 The dates

 The border Russian village of Nikel attracts professional artists implementing creative projects twice a year, in winter and summer.

 Project objectives:

- to develop the concept of the art residence

- to attract art residents

- to integrate the residents into the local community

- to conduct a module of art workshops and final performances.

 The project was created with the support of Nornickel.

About the Project

The Nikel art residence (fully named "Nikel is a Polar Day, Nikel is a Polar Night") is the northernmost art residence in Russia. It was established in 2018 on the basis of the Second School Center for Social Projects of the Pechenga district. The art residence has a unique location beyond the Arctic Circle, at the junction of several cultures: it takes only 40 minutes to reach the Norwegian town of Kirkenes and one hour and a half to go go the Finnish town of Neiden. According to the Strelka magazine and the Tavrida art residence, Nikel art residence entered the top ten art residences in Russia.

What is an Art Residence?

An art residence (artist-in-residence) is a form of organizing artistic life for creative specialists, that provides them with all comfortable work conditions and everything necessary for their life and work. What is more, the art residence provides the residents with an audience to discuss the resulting works. Art residences are widespread all over the world. For example, about 40 of them constantly function in Russia. The first similar projects appeared in the 19th century.

 The reasons for organizing such events may be different: the need to gentrificate some area or develop a creative infrastructure, revitalize the local community or make the territory more attractive for local residents. Now an increasing number of art residences are responding to the latter issue, becoming an intermediary between the artists and the locals. It is exactly what the Nikel art residence is aimed at.

Terms of Participation

Creative sessions of the Nikel art residence take place twice a year and are called The Polar Day (in summer) and The Polar Night (in winter), respectively. Each residence lasts for two weeks. If needed, preliminary field studies of the area are possible for planning a future project before the start of the sessions in prior agreement with the organizers. 

 The participants — artists, musicians, cameramen, photographers, designers, poets and other creative specialists — are chosen through an open competition. The jury consists of the recognized Russian and world-class experts, influential personas of the town and representatives of Norilsk Nickel. The number of the projects selected to participate in one residence is limited to seven projects.

 Residents are paid for transport costs and expenses for materials, accommodation. Meals, workshops and assistance with the registration of travel grants and visa issues are also provided.

 The organizers cover PR support, assistance in production, meetings, events and the final festival. Thus, the artists can focus on their creative goals with no distraction.

The purpose of the Art Residence

Preference is given to those projects contributing to the development of local cultural life or solving any requests of residents of Nickel, Zapolyarny or Rayakoski settlements. For two weeks, the artists immerse in the northern weekdays’ routine and special holidays, imbue with the charm of the Arctic nature and interact with local organizations and businesses.

 The time of the event – summer or winter – does not impose any special restrictions on the residents. In winter, the polar night will not interfere with street performances or the opening of an improvised outdoor restaurant, and in July no one forbids painting indoors. However, artists are invited to present projects related to the general theme of the art residence — increasing the tourist attraction of the region with its harsh nature and industrial romance – and the focus of a specific creative session.

 For example, the 2018 Polar Night art residence was dedicated to children and teenagers, the 2020 Polar Day art residence was focused on the "invisible layers" of the small Russian towns, the multilayered nature of the north and the life of the Kola Peninsula. In the winter of 2021, the artists created their pieces on the theme of the "twilight zone": the time when the polar night ends and the nature of the Arctic awakens, the long darkness gradually recedes and days get longer.

 The Polar Day and the Polar Night art residences resulted in the update of the local public spaces and creation of new art objects and works of art. As a must, the participants of the Nikel art residence present their works to the local community in the form of an exhibition, videos, etc.


The main thing for residents is to feel the atmosphere of the north and make friends with the locals. It is crucial to make sure that the latter treat the works positively and strive to participate in the creative process as viewers, co-authors and assistants who will look after the projects when the art residence ends.

 The needs of the locals can change the original idea of an artist or inspire a completely new art project. For example, in the framework of the 2018 Polar Night art residence, on the initiative and with the support of the local residents of Nikel, an unplanned art object by Marina Akishina — a snow clock — appeared in one of the village's yards.

 Residents hold various events — lectures, master classes, dance classes, photo club meetings, Cook &Talk events and many others — for locals of the Pechenga district. Each activity changes the attitude of local residents to the territory familiar to them from their childhood and helps them take a better look at each other.


The curators have a great influence on the art residence. Nikel is lucky with all of them as each curator promotes their own vision of the creative session and is interested in the development of the northern region.

 Ivan Lungin (Moscow, Paris) is an artist and creator of installations. He works with photo and video art. His monographic shows and group exhibitions were held in Russia, France, Turkey, Germany, and Italy. Ivan Lungin was the curator of the 2018 Nikel art residence.

 Sasha Kremenets (Moscow) is a producer of socio-cultural projects in Russia, Norway, Sweden and Finland, and a program director of the 2018-2019 Nikel art residences.

 Fridaymilk is a Murmansk-based independent project and curating group that deals with culture and media. Its participants promote the idea of shifting cultural centers from metropolitan cities to regions and look for a new northern identity. Among the projects organized by the team are the Inversion audio-visual festival, Uncapitlas art expedition for northern artists and the Dark Ecology three-year Russian-Norwegian-Dutch project. Fridaymilk were curators of the 2020-2021 Nikel art residences.

 Ilya Kuzubov (Arkhangelsk) is a manager in the field of culture and art, promoting contemporary and traditional art of the North of Russia in the Barents region. He is an organizer of the Taibola art festival, a director of the Taibola Assemble team, a director of the Taibola Norge Russian-Norwegian non-profit partnership and a promo director of the Zmey Raduga Severodvinsk street theater. Ilya Kuzubov was a curator of the 2021 Nikel summer art residency.

 Alexander Khromykh (Murmansk, St Petersburg) is an educator at Saint Petersburg Stieglitz State Academy of Art and Design. He is a sculptor and owns a workshop where he works with various sculptural materials (metal, ceramics, glass, and stone), graphics and watercolors. He was a participant of the 2021 Nikel summer art residency and became the curator of the 2022 winter residence.

Cultural Program

We organize a splendid cultural program for the residents: we conduct excursions to the incredibly beautiful northern nature beyond the Arctic Circle, take them to trips to Finland and Norway, introduce them to foreign colleagues and representatives of international organizations. In parallel, artists often give master classes, which locals are very much waiting for. Sometimes they even postpone vacations to get the opportunity to be part of the creative process.