An exhibition by Maria Diesel at the Vyksa Steelworks History Museum
Maria Diesel has become the first ceramist to participate in the Vyksa Artist-in-Residence programme. The artist finds her inspiration in industrial aesthetics and the form and function of industrial objects.

One of the reasons why Maria Diesel decided to participate in the programme was her interest in the way an urban resident and an artist interact with an industrial town when art is produced there on top of industrial goods. Another reason was that the artist was inspired by post-workerism – an intellectual theory behind the 1960–1970s Italy's labour movement. It was based on the works of Italian theorists as well as Marxist theory flashbacks. As a large-scale industrial production site and an impressive cultural platform, Vyksa seemed to be an ideal place for immersion in the local environment, subsequent analysis, and art practice.

During her residence in Vyksa, Maria visited the railway wheel and sheet metal productions, walked in the park and around the ponds, and explored the town's murals. The artist was especially impressed with the production, scalding steel fired at the same temperature as ceramics (up to 1300°C), and fine-grained slag from open-hearth production (it was decided to try using this material for coating). She also greatly enjoyed her meeting with the local artist, Ekaterina Golotvina, who provided her studio and kiln for their collaborative work.

During her visit to the factory, Maria's attention was drawn to the colours of the fencing, railings, and technical pipes as well as their monumental scale. She later applied this palette when glazing the ceramic objects for her Vyksa project. Another crucial observation was how the town's residents, who accompanied her on the factory tour, began to look at the industrial sites from a different angle. Before their visit, they had not seen it as anything particularly impressive but everyone was stricken by the formidable beauty of the industrial site.

Having immersed herself in the industrial reality, Maria could not help but feel fascinated, 'We, industrial city dwellers, are used to seeing these sites, walking or driving past them every day or even working there. Everything around us becomes mundane and imperceptible. Walls, fences, pipes, corners, stones, and smoke – all too familiar. We dream of the faraway shores, seas, and scorching sun. We are always in a hurry to live and strive for the best finding temporary solace in the Internet, TV, and watching good and not-so-good movies, etc. But we fail to notice important things. Important is what is around us, our imperfect world, a city, an entrance hall, a bridge, a rainwater downpipe, and the factory's pipes. This world is beautiful, just look at it…'

In her reflections, Maria Diesel glorifies Vyksa and compares the factory's pipes with the tube-shaped brass instruments of a symphony orchestra. As if leaping to avant-garde, the artist once again demolishes the border between the industrial and the cultural – the two milestones Vyksa's identity is built around. Instead of imposing on us a contract between the industrial reality and some strange beauty she would like to instil, Maria suggests that we explore the world around us through a new prism. This prism implies that 'industrial aesthetics' is a self-sufficient fully-fledged phenomenon that does not require any extra aestheticization or embellishments. It is ready to serve not as a platform for new productions and images but as a basic functional semantic and visual code of reality we no longer need to decipher but see, accept, and admire because it is truly magnificent.

Maria Diesel
Maria is a ceramic artist, born in the Moscow region, lives and works near the town of Istra. For the artist industrial objects, pipes, bridges and other technical structures become the basis of aesthetic inspiration. She observes, analyzes, processes and sublimates her visual experience into objects of industrial form.
She studied at the workshop of Arseniy Zhilyaev at The Learning Environment, at the New Ceramics School by Tatiana Punans, at the British Higher School of Design, at the Trinity School of Art (workshops of Russian icons and icon painting). She was nominated for the Russian Project 2020 award by Interior + Design magazine in the Art & Craft category.