The Seven Worlds of Vladimir Vysotsky

Honor Award 2019

"Hallways: Seven Worlds of Vladimir Vysotsky" at The Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow is an immersive multimedia exhibition dedicated to the work of Vladimir Vysotsky, a 20th-century Russian poet, songwriter and actor, who is a revered cultural icon in Russia and beyond. Visitors enter the world of his songs, brought to life through a series of recreated environments that reoccur in his work.

Instead of focusing on Vysotsky’s biography, the team drew inspiration directly from his songs. Often written in the first person, they are actually fictional reflections, full of intense emotions and fantastical allegories. They chose seven themes often evoked in his work to create immersive environments: a typical kitchen of a Soviet communal apartment, a psychiatric ward, a back alley, a prison, a pub, a war trench and the house of the dead.

The result is a series of seven meticulously recreated and highly detailed settings populated by human figures with carefully selected symbolic objects in place of their heads. To achieve this goal, the team developed an audio track played back on headphones distributed to each visitor; relevant songs are seamlessly activated in each space. Vysotsky’s voice is complemented by original manuscripts displayed throughout the exhibit.

Challenges facing the Lorem Ipsum design team included the exhibition space—a long and narrow hallway—and the one-month installation timeline. Rather than trying to work against the space, the Lorem Ipsum team integrated the challenges of the space into the concept—the idea of a hallway is integral to each one of the seven worlds: the hallway of an apartment, the hallway of a prison, the narrow passage of a trench. Consequently, the design of each world fit perfectly into the shape of the exhibition space.

The exhibition received extensive media attention and visitor accolades, carefully tracked by the PR and outreach team of the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center. It has been praised as “innovative, beautiful and beneficial.”  

Innovative, because it used a completely new approach to engage visitors in a conversation about a very well-known artist and invited them to reexamine his legacy from a different perspective. Beautiful, because of the level of attention to craftsmanship, colors, textures, lighting and selected objects carefully curated to create a realistic, yet magical world. Beneficial, because it is important to keep the memory of this brilliant artist and his work alive as many of the social and political issues raised in Vysotsky's work are as relevant today as they were 50 years ago.

JMTC’s aim is to highlight significant contributions made to Russian society by Jewish citizenry. This exhibition drew a huge amount of press and therefore expanded the message of JMTC to the wider cultural community. This exhibition also  introduced Vysotsky to a new generation of people, who had not grown up listening to his music, poetry and watching his films, enabling them to engage with the Soviet Union from a new perspective and understand what it meant to be a true artist during this regime.

Jury Comments: 

"Beautifully recreated environments with such moving and immersive details throughout the exhibit."

"Authentic! Evocative! This exhibition EMBODIES its content, which is the highest objective to which a designer can aspire. Nothing gratuitous, formulaic or stylistic. It invites you into a world for an intimate and powerful vicarious experience."

"Clever, authentic and effective."

Design Firms: 

Lorem Ipsum

Client: 

The Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center

Project Area: 

350 sq ft

Open Date: 

June 2018

Design Team: 

Yan Vizinberg (concept, direction); Abigail Honor, Christopher Cooper (principals in charge); Andrey Ponkratov (art director); Vladislav Opelyants (cinematographer); Pavel Erko (graphic designer); Andrey Grachyov (set design, head of fabrication); Anna Kokornova (prop master); Maria Uresko (costume designer)

Consultants: 

Ilya Pokrovsky and Igor Avidzba, JMTC (integration)

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