RuArts Foundation will present the project Nevsky Ave by Vita Buivid at the exhibition "PERSONAL STRUCTURES". The exhibition will be held during the Venice Biennale 2017 at the European Cultural Centre.
Despite the move to Moscow, Vita Buivid retained the status of St. Petersburg artist. Belonging to Petersburg is visible not by the subject selection, but mostly in the particular state of works. global photo installation “Nevsky Ave” appeals to the utopian scenery of recent past. Portrait types are seen as reflections in show windows. That was written by gogol in his eponymous short story, and then visualized by street photographers of the early 1990s – providers of “Photo by mail” service, completely forgotten today.
The most significant images are printed on satin and painted
by oil. Scaffoldings as renovation signs are framing the work. Installation floor is filled with glance album photos. Viewers
are moving on the planks as if over street puddles. The project demonstrates the transformation of the city image through the people, representing a group portrait of urbanism.
“It seems very recent, but already a quarter of a century has passed since “Photo by mail” service, a very special by that time. Random street photographers, including myself, were the providers of a vivid memory sent by regular post. Prints on paper, film cameras and other analogue techniques have been almost removed from ordinary life today, but still exist as a time capsule, as a hope of confirmation, the presence in the past.
I’ve always been an admirer of the great writer Nikolai Gogol. Somehow we share certain geographic points: both Ukrainian-born, I've been reflecting on his most significant areas. Firstly, moved to Poltava, a prominent location for Gogol’s literature development, then following his footsteps, moved to St. Petersburg.
Gogol created his eponymous novel “Nevsky Ave” in the 1830s, but it’s still up-to-date, more relevant than nowadays anachronism – glossy 10x15 cm photos sent by mail in the early 1990s. In the novel, Gogol describes Nevsky Avenue, central in St. Petersburg, and its habitats. The story celebrates the delights of the fancy street, but is filled with kitsch and grotesque, typical for Gogol's works. And in a way nothing has changed through time: Nevsky Avenue became a time capsule itself. People passing by, they’ve changed only superficially, with a bit of current fashion, but spiritual substance, the archetype is similar.
In the same way photo installation "Nevsky Ave" appeals to the utopian prospect of the recent past. Portrait-types are seen as reflections in the shop windows. The most compelling characters are printed in bigger scale on satin and painted with oil. Scaffoldings are framing the work, turning the installation space into renovation sign. So relevant to Venice, which seems to be at constant renewal.
The floor is filled with layers of postcard-size photos. Viewers are moving over it by wooden planks as over puddles. The "technique" used as back in XIX century St. Petersburg, where wooden passageways were created on main streets; as in heavy rain days on Nevsky Ave and even in overflow situations in Venice. Glossy pictures are flooding the installation space, leaving a viewer only limited options of movement, strictly regulated to the geographic of the planks.
(Re)Creating the space, building it up as set decorations and completely drowning the viewer in the Nevsky Avenues’ faces, dated and timeless at the same time. The installation sound, introduction to the Gogol’s novel, is quietly read in a background, like a secret explanation or a mantra for a non-Russian speaking viewer.
Many cities can share the experience of being flooded with people, but the certain spirit of mingling crowd is shared among just a few. The palaces and canals, gala views on facades and darker back streets are so common for both cities. Did you know that sometimes St. Petersburg is referred to as the Northern Venice? Also, Gogol lived in Italy for twelve years, that’s why choosing this particular project for the exhibition in Venice is providing an extra layer of space connections, me following Gogol rather like a groupie than a pilgrim”.