Plant (1955 — 2005) this section depicts usage of selected space by the former insulation materials plant. The plant was opened in 1955 in the city of Donetsk. The company produced mineral wool and other insulation materials for power stations and military and astronautical applications. The plant’s products were exported to the republics of the USSR and European countries, and around 1000 workers and engineers were employed at the company. In 2005 the plant went bankrupt because of the railway line being closed, and its premises began to be used as warehouses.
‘Izolyatsia’ foundation (2010 — 2014) this section depicts how the space was used by the international charitable foundation ‘Izolyatsia’. In 2010, Donetsk activists opened a platform for cultural initiatives with the support of local business, using the legacy of the factory as a source of inspiration and material for creating new ideas. The Foundation used the plant premises to realise educational, cultural and art projects, to create new enterprises in the creative economy, and to stage concerts, theatre performances and cinema viewings. Both artists and cultural actors on a Ukrainian and global level and the local community were actively involved in ‘Izolyatsia’s work.
‘Izolyatsia’ illegal prison (2014 - ...) this section shows the space during the operation of the illegal prison and military base that representatives of Russian Federation armed units set up on the site of the plant and cultural foundation. Buildings which were earlier used for cultural events and art projects are now a place of illegal imprisonment, torture, execution by firing squad and used for the storage of ammunition, weapons and military equipment. According to the testimony of former prisoners, the hostages are kept in inhumane conditions, made to do forced labour and undergo moral and physical abuse.
It is an artificial mountain made of discarded material from a mine. The former plant is obligated to Mine No. 12 (‘Yevdokiyivka’). The ‘Izolyatsia’ Foundation slagheap has a special distinguishing feature: a two-metre deer on its apex. Historians date its installation to the 1970s-1990s. The metal construction on a local slagheap became a landmark for the whole region: because of its position it can be seen from any point in Yevdokiyivka, a settlement on the edge of Donetsk. From that same slagheap a panorama of the whole of Donetsk opens up.
The ‘Izolyatsia’ Foundation team developed a concept which included the slagheap as an integral part of a future eco creative village on the former plant’s site. In this concept the slagheap was recognised as a unique and characteristic part of the site, and not just a painful reminder of former industrial greatness.
In 2011 the British landscape architect Rick Rowbotham developed a plan for transforming the slagheap into a viewing platform and a source of hot water for heating the Foundation’s premises. Volunteers cleaned up the site around it themselves: these were concerned Donetsk residents who helped the art centre team create a new space for their future. Lectures and discussions were held on the slagheap, in particular the Days of Street Art at IZOLYATSIA events (2011).
In that same year (2011) the art centre team decided that the slagheap should become a large canvas for temporary pop-up exhibitions. Through open competitions the ‘Izolyatsia’ Foundation selected artists from across Ukraine who created new works on the former waste dump. This is how the project Footprints on Snow came into being: under the direction of the Odesa street artist APL315 a huge rainbow appeared on the slope of the slagheap, dotted with footprints. A continuation of this was the competition for artistic ideas Footprints on Snow: Urban Oases: in January 2013 the Foundation team and the artist Kostyantin Martsenkovskyi transformed the snow-covered slagheap into a 15 x 26m colourful carpet. After this the ‘Izolyatsia’ Foundation held the Footprints on Snow winter photography exhibition, the winners of which were chosen on social networking sites by Donetsk residents.
The deer on top of the slagheap became a distinct symbol of the ‘Izolyatsia’ Foundation. Now the city’s residents associated it not with the abandoned plant, but with vibrant art events and new experiences.
On June, 9th, 2014, at approximately 09:00 am, the Russia-backed illegal armed formations have entered the ‘Izolyatsia’ Foundation territory. Armed men asked security to not resist. Representative of the Russian occupation administration, Roman Lyagin, have told, that the factory space will be used to store and sort humanitarian aid from Russian Federation, as well as a place for administrative tasks. Also, he expressed interest in the use of a bomb shelter located on the territory of the factory.
After the ‘Izolyatsia’ Foundation site was seized, armed Russia-backed illegal armed formations placed a gun emplacement with a sniper on the slagheap by the deer. This enabled them to see the entire space around the plant and shoot at anyone who they deemed suspicious. According to eyewitnesses, two snipers are constantly guarding the prison from hidden positions.