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Museum Brings Rare Images to Light

Published: December 25, 2013 (Issue # 1792)



  • Ivan Saltiels photograph of D.G. Burylin with his family in Egypt, 1913.
    Photo: State Russian Museum / For SPT

  • An anonymous photograph of May Day celebrations in Aleksin, Tula Province.
    Photo: State Russian Museum / For SPT

  • A photograph by K. Kamprad shows a scene from provincial religious life.
    Photo: State Russian Museum / For SPT

  • I.S. Liebermans photograph of a hungry village cook in Samara.
    Photo: State Russian Museum / For SPT

Starving orphans huddling around a wooden table with several large clay pots and a few chunks of bread on it, aristocratic balls and military parades in the pre-revolutionary era, breeding horses, peasants hard at work in the fields and the first trains arriving at provincial railway stations are just some of the images that can be seen as part of the Second Biennial of Historic and Archive Photography at the Marble Palace of the State Russian Museum.

The new exhibit opened on Dec. 18 and explores how the technology of photography developed over time by showcasing a number of techniques used since its invention in the mid-19th century. Daguerreotypes, silver prints, bromoil prints and early experiments with the use of color are all on show.

In mounting this extensive display, the Russian Museum brought together images from a number of archives and libraries in Russian towns to create a journey through the past 150 years, as documented by the countrys most talented photographers.

Some of the most remarkable shots in the show come from Maxim Dmitriev, whose images of Russia are no sugar-coated postcard idylls. Rather, his photographs tell stories, and often heart-breaking ones at that. One of the founders of documentary photography in Russia, Dmitrievs sobering images attracted significant public attention as he touched on some of societys most pressing issues: Poverty, starvation and epidemics. They also helped make a difference by focussing the attention of the government to the plight of the populace.

Dmitrievs photography was impossible to ignore. This man was able to make himself heard, said Svetlana Zinchenko, a curator with the Russian Museums photography department. His photographs frequently appeared in the pages of Russian and foreign publications alike.

Dmitriev remains a source of inspiration to this day for photographers who work in the field of reportage.

The first photo biennial held by the Russian Museum took place in 2011 and focused on images of Moscow and St. Petersburg. That exhibition showcased 400 incredible prints, including fascinating views of serene city landscapes from the pre-revolutionary era by Karl Bulla and shots by Alexander Chekhov, the elder brother of the writer Anton Chekhov.

This time out, the museum is pushing the geographic boundaries in venturing far beyond Russias two main cities and presenting images of life in central Russia. Hundreds of prints traveled to St. Petersburg from the Russian Photography Museum in Nizhny Novgorod, the Saratov State Arts Museum, the Tver Picture Gallery, the State Archive of Tula, the Borovichi History Museum, the Arkhangelsk Regional Museum and the Novgorod State Museum Estate, to name a few.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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