ST. PETERSBURG AND PIRANESI'S "CARCERI" IN CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY

Curators:     

 

Arcady Ippolitov, The State Hermitage Museum

Olga Korsunova, FotoDepartament

 

Artists:

 

Vladimir Antoshchenkov, Leonid Bogdanov, Dmitry Goryachev, Natalia Zakharova, Alexey Zelensky, Alexander Kitaev, Nadezhda Kuznetzova, Eugeny Mokhorev, Boris Smelov, Lyudmila Tabolina, Alexey Tikhonov, Alexander Filippov, Pavel Markin, Stanislav Chabutkin, Alexander Chernogrivov, Anatoly Shishkov, Sergey Shcherbakov

 

 

 

"...Of course, there’s nothing specific but when I hear that the password is “Piranesi – prisons”, in return I want automatically say “grills – stairs”. One only needs to fix where they are. Somewhere they’re, for sure...”

 

"...Dandies of St. Petersburg 1970-80s that don’t have freedom, will but tons of frustrated elegance..."

 

 

In 1831 a renowned Russian writer Vladimir Odoevsky published a short story “Opere Cavaliere Giambattista Piranesi”. There he describes an incredible meeting in St. Petersburg with an Italian engraver Giovanni Battista Piranesi. In St. Petersburg Piranesi is everywhere. The city itself, the creation of an imperial mind, is sick of gigantism. Its rarified distracted space is filled with an overtly deliberate architecture that the city becomes an engraved mirage. It’s hard to live in gravure, as it’s hard to live in St. Petersburg. The scale of the city – the correlation between an imperial vim of space and self-awareness of a man – is perceived like one is inside Piranesi’s gravure. From the conflict revealed in “The Bronze Horseman” by Alexander Pushkin is a piranasian one and each photographer that tries to capture St. Petersburg undergoes this conflict: consciously or not.

 

The most prominent Piranesi gravure series is “The Prisons” (Carceri) consists of sixteen pictures of architectural spaces: dark stairwells, stone bridges, chains, passages, vaults and arches. There is no sign of man’s present but the commitment of an unknown ferocious act is felt physically. The figure of Piranesi is not a “frozen art history. He is always contemporary as back in 1749 when he published the first variant of “The Prisons”.

 

Seventeen Russian photographers pay homage to the great engraver and the city of St. Petersburg that is quite a tough city.