What Things Are Not


National Center of Contemporary Arts
St. Petersburg

Russian Federation, USA, Spain

Identity and landscape

Exploring and analyzing landscapes is an indirect anthropologic research, offering the possibility to analyze local populations and their behaviors, in which direction society is going and which compromises it is willing to make.

Landscape speaks and tells a lot, but what happens to identity and memory when landscape lies?

The project started during a residency at NCCA St.Petersburg which offered a base to explore and document the contemporary approach to city-making, focusing on the potential of things rather than their actual nature. The series of works is inspired by prints installed in public space to cover renovation or building sites and consists of prints made from stock-images downloaded from popular websites, installed in public spaces, overlapping natural and digital landscape. What is the the difference between representation and reality? Which social engineering practices can benefit from the use of non-commercial communication in public space?

Textured banners covering building-sites in public spaces are often seen all across the world, they cover housing complex, monuments and historical heritage and they change the meaning of places especially when building or restoring activity lasts for long periods. What does a monument become when it’s temporarily covered in a marble decoration? Is it the same monument temporarily unavailable or a completely new monument with a new meaning?

Using the surroundings as a studio and working by adding, moving or removing details in order to obtain a clash of meanings is a playful and political act at the same time; in a constant equilibrium between observation and impulsive acts it emulates what institutions and governments are doing in bigger scale to build identity or frame the perception of reality.

Western Russia is very interesting for its hybrid background, being both culturally and geographically in between Europe and the rest of a Country stretching throughout Eastern-Asia; since the October Revolution up to nowadays it’s also in the middle of the biggest rhetoric war with the West: powers portray reality in very different ways according to their own convenience. Baroque facades are hiding Soviet backyards, time shifts and while present is very much present, past and future are not necessarily consequential in the political narration.

‘What things are not’ is at the same time a way to reflect on the relevance of photography in the information age, characterised by a massive production and consumption of visual content, where images take over the narration of the present regardless of the media they were produced with or of their truthfulness. What’s the difference between crystal-clear water, a photography of crystal-clear water and the 3D rendering of the same element in terms of representational value? Which kind of effect the representation of reality has on reality itself?