I began working on the Petergof Road project in 2015, when I came back to Saint-Petersburg after spending two years abroad.
This long absence did something to the way in which I experienced the city space: what had been familiar to the point of being unnoticeable before, all of a sudden became very strange. Saint-Petersburg has a very strongly established urban imaginary.
Dostoevsky called Saint-Petersburg â€œthe most abstract and intentional city on the entire globeâ€.
I decided to focus my attention on a very particular piece of land: the territory of the road from Saint-Petersburg to Petergof, a tract established by Peter the Great in 1710 to connect the newly built capital to the monarch's suburban residencies and the resulting huge architectural ensemble according to the Peter idea had to overshadow the road from Paris to Versailles.
This territory exemplifies the paradoxical nature of the Russian landscape. The road, yet another manifestation of the imperial vision, was constructed in accordance with the idea of picturesque. Its grand ensembles of palaces and nobilityâ€™s residencies, stretching along an imaginary line on the map, were constructed with the primary purpose of pleasing the enlightened observerâ€™s eyes. This vision, however, was not meant to accommodate the actuality of the rural land, a layer which remained excluded from the official discourse and hence invisible.
Over the past three hundred years, the Petergof road landscape has borne witness to many a utopian vision; each of them transformed and scarred it, leaving behind marks which have often remained unaccounted for. In a way, my approach is that of a visual archeologist: by trying to uncover strata which have been previously hidden, I aim to understand and assemble my own identity.