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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

Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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