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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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Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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