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The art of protest

Political and social protest graffiti has been moved from the street to an indoor art exhibition at Etagi.

Published: December 5, 2012 (Issue # 1738)



  • This Patriarch-moneybox was originally created as graffiti and remade as a bust for the exhibition.
    Photo: SERGEY CHERNOV / SPT

  • Guerrillas by Alexandra Kachko, aka Avdotya Kablukova. The artist regularly attends political protests.
    Photo: SERGEY CHERNOV / SPT

When people feel their freedom of speech is limited, and what they are fed by the media is often pure propaganda or mere informational noise serving to distract their attention from pressing issues, they start to express themselves on the streets, be it through rallies or political graffiti.

An exhibition titled Voice of the Streets that opened last month at Loft Project Etagi, an arts center located in a former bread factory, documents the current state of the messages expressed on city walls in St. Petersburg and other Russian cities, ranging from anarchist and left-wing to feminist and pacifist.

Although a number of the exhibits seem apolitical, most represent direct forms of political and social protest.

Surprisingly, the exhibitions organizer, PublicPost, has links to both the authorities and liberals.

PublicPost is a website created in November 2011 by the Russian state bank Sberbank, news agency Interfax and Alexei Venediktov, editor of Ekho Moskvy radio station, which enjoys a reputation as a liberal station. The website combines blogs and professional journalism, according to Interfax.

Venediktov was quoted as saying that very diverse social and political figures will be able to discuss the fate of Russia freely on the website.

The works for the exhibition were picked by Stanislav Reshetnyov, who works at PublicPost as a programmer in Moscow, and Alexandra Kachko, a local artist known for her paper graffiti, frequently featuring a memorable female character named Zoa.

Usually they [PublicPost] go to different cities and support things that are already happening there, but here Stas [Stanislav] suggested that they should organize something of their own, Kachko said.

Of course, nobody [at PublicPost] had any idea what street art was. But thanks to them, the local offices of Interfax gave us a room in which to draw and prepare the exhibition, and we got this room at Etagi for free, even if we were forbidden to make any extra holes in the walls.

For the first time in St. Petersburg, art was collected directly from the streets in the form of photos and reprints. According to the curators, the only selection criteria were that the works should have a clear message and express a plea for dialog.

The organizers have not divided the works according to ideology or movement, so Voice of the Streets reproduces the world of Russian street art, in which non-political graffiti sits side by side with radical mottoes, and well-known artists are displayed alongside amateurs, they said.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Sept. 17


AmChams Investment and Legal Committee Meeting convenes this morning in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center at 9 a.m.


Learn more about the science of teaching English at todays EFL Seminar hosted by the British Book Center. Revolving around the topic of learning styles, the workshop will help attendees better understand the different effective learning methods that can be implemented to learn English more effectively.



Thursday, Sept. 18


Get your nerd on at Boomfest, St. Petersburgs answer to the United States popular ComicCon. Starting today, this international festival of comics will take over venues throughout the city center and includes exhibitions of comics and illustrations, film screenings, competitions and the chance to meet the genres authors, artists and experts.



Friday, Sept. 19


SPIBAs newest addition to their Cultural Discoveries events is Handmade in Germany, an exhibition featuring unique handmade objects of a significantly higher quality than mass-produced items. The work of over 100 German manufacturers will be displayed during the event, which opens today in the Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Paul on Nevsky Prospekt and runs through Sept. 28.



Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during todays Djembe and Vuvuzela, a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of todays round table discussion on Interaction with Trade Unions being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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