The Demise of Petersburg

We offer you the press release of the collective exhibition project "The Demise of Petersburg"Participants: Ilya Gaponov Valery Grikovsky, Alexander Dashevsky, Vitaliy Pushnitsky, Andrew Rudev.


The demise of Petersburg is a chronically recurring illness.

Surrounded by gloomy prophecies, the city has been anticipating disaster from its very beginning. Through literature, this predicted devastation became part of the Petersburg myth.

At critical turning points (the reign of Peter the Great, 1812-1825, the age of avangarde, perestroika), the image of the future replaces reality. Appealing to the future grants endless privileges in the present. The descendant’s verdict annuls the contemporary’s verdict. It seems that historical progress can be made by force and that only time separates it from triumph.

Saint Petersburg, in the words of Lotman, is “…the future Russia. The city that must engage the future.” The city as a project and a mission. When the project is not completed, a premonition of local eschatology emerges from the depths of Petersburg’s text.


The artist’s self-perception in social space has changed. Nevertheless, it is not correct to speak of modern art returning to the underground format. The spread of the boundaries of art, which not too long ago was a life-affirming game in the eyes of a sympathetic public, has reversed itself. To the contrary, art found itself in danger of capitalist and political appropriation. Combined with limited freedom of speech and the lack of open communication with authorities, this led to artists’ alienation and a tendency, if not to inward emigration, at least to the fortification of the borders of art.

The fact that these artists, without pre-arrangement, have each started to modify the language of the 70’s in their artwork most likely testifies not to stagnation, but to sharpened retrospective vision and the formation of a new identity and subject matter in modern art. The demise of Petersburg as a project city has turned the discussion back around to the extensive historical layer that is evaluated with one-sided bias by the latest native culture.